Egypt's gonna get one too, just to use on you know who -- Tom Lehrer
German daily Die Welt has two reports today on Egypt's systematic and aggressive rearmament program.
One story is that Egypt is in the process of developing nuclear weapons, with Chinese and North Korean assistance.
The other story talks more generally about Egypt's weapon buying program, whereby the troubled economy is nevertheless spending billions of dollars a year on tanks, fighter jets and Scud missiles, making it the 2nd largest arms customer in the world, after Saudi Arabia. Only a fraction of the expenditures are mentioned in the public budget.
The U.S. military assistance of $1.3 billion a year is supplemented by low-interest loans and subsidies from the Gulf states.
Egypt denies developing weapons of mass destruction, although as early as 1970 then President Sadat claimed that Egypt had biological weapons "in deep freeze". Furthermore, Egypt used mustard gas on the Yemeni Arab population in order to put down a rebellion in 1963.
Citing German intelligence sources, the paper reports that China will help Egypt process and enrich uranium, including the production of uranium hexafluoride. The two countries signed a treaty in January for "cooperation on the peaceful uses of atomic energy". Parts of the treaty remain undisclosed. One source of the uranium would be the Sinai peninsula. Egypt is also trying to procure uranium from other African nations such as Niger. Egypt was in the process of purchasing long-range No-Dong missilesfrom North Korea. Intelligence analysts believe that these efforts have been put on hold out of consideration for U.S. efforts against North Korea. However, this initiative is likely to resume once the U.S. attacks Iraq and is distracted. As further evidence of their missile buying plans, Egypt has reportedly been purchasing large numbers of Soviet-type MAZ-547 trailer trucks, which are used for launching missiles, such as the No-Dong.
Egypt denies the allegations that it is developing nuclear weapons, and the International Atomic Energy Agency claims it has no knowledge of such efforts. But Egyptian officials have long signaled their intentions to obtain nuclear weapons in order to balance Israel's nuclear capacity. Most recently there was an editorial in Egyptian government daily Al-Ahram, appealing to Mubarak to acquire a nuclear capability.
So the Sinai will now serve as a uranium mine. So much for the concept of "land for peace".Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at June 22, 2002 12:20 PM