Egypt, the Arab world's most populous country, will restart a nuclear power program to generate electricity after a two-decade pause in the plan, Housing Minister Ahmed El Maghraby said.
Egypt will build several nuclear power stations, Maghraby said at a news conference at the headquarters of the ruling National Democratic party. He was confirming an announcement made earlier today by President Hosni Mubarak.
“Nuclear energy is our strategic choice for the future,'' the minister said.
Egypt is among several Middle Eastern countries that have recently announced nuclear energy ambitions, even as the U.S. is warning that Iran is trying to develop atomic weapons. Egypt is a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. NPT members pledge not to develop atomic arms.
U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the U.S. doesn't object to peaceful nuclear-energy development by countries in good standing under the Non-Proliferation Treaty that have monitoring agreements with the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency.
“For those states who want to pursue peaceful nuclear energy, abiding by their international commitments, there's no problem,'' McCormack told reporters in Washington today.
In September, Gamal Mubarak, son of the president, announced that Egypt would pursue nuclear energy. The goal is to reduce reliance on oil-burning plants, Gamal Mubarak said. On April 13, Electricity Minister Hasan Yunis said Egypt plans to build a 1,000-megawatt plant somewhere along the Mediterranean coast.