By Tiffany Gabbay
As the Middle East rages out of control, great emphasis is placed on the Islamic Republic of Iran as it scrambles furiously to produce a nuclear warhead. A lesser known evil boiling beneath the surface, however, is that Egypt, now led by the Muslim Brotherhood via its newly elected President Mohamed Morsi, may indeed have nuclear weapons-ambitions of its own. During an exclusive panel discussion with Professor Raymond Stock, former visiting assistant professor of Arabic and Middle East Studies at Drew University, delved deeper into Egypt’s relationship with Iran and its plans to develop nuclear weapons.
Stock, a Guggenheim Fellow, lived in Cairo for 20 years until he was ultimately deported by the regime of former President Hosni Mubarak, citing a 2009 article by Stock criticizing then-Culture Minister Farouk Hosni’s bid to head UNESCO. The panel was hosted by the Center for Security Policy and the Middle East Endowment for Truth and was moderated by Congressman Fred Grandy.
Dr. Stock explained that the ousting of Hosni Mubarak “made us realize” that while not wholly democratic, Egypt was indeed “liberal” under his regime. Meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood’s goal is “to restore the caliphate.”
Stock discussed the role the Brotherhood played in spawning support for the Arab Spring and ensuring that the masses would come out in support of various Middle East uprisings. He added that the current U.S. administration’s penchant for defining the people in the Middle East based on their religion and not their respective ethnicities and state boundaries is a “real tragedy” as it only feeds into the greater Islamist “supremacist idea.”
“This is the real tragedy of what we are doing.”
In terms of Egypt’s nuclear ambitions, which began in earnest in 1954 under then-President Nassar, the country’s first small research reactor was built by the Russians that year. Then, in the 1998 Argentina aided in the development of another reactor, also fueled by Russia.
Currently, the Egyptians can “produce 6 kilograms per year of plutonium,” according to Stock. “That is the amount needed to make one bomb annually.” Thus, since 1998, the professor concluded that while Egypt may use its plutonium for some peaceful purposes, it also has had the capability to produce 24 nuclear warheads.
“They have an ongoing fuel supply for it.”
He added that in terms of enrichment, Egypt is but a heartbeat away from its current medium-grade enrichment capabilities to the high-grade capacity. “Once you get to 20 kilograms, you have essentially mastered the enrichment process.”
The professor explained that Egypt has always been open about its nuclear ambitions, even if it was so under the guise of “civilian use” but that financial difficulties have precluded the country from moving a WMD-program along full-steam head.
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