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#623 - March 4, 2005

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Full issue

25 Years ago

What happened 25 years ago? We go back to news from our 1979 WISE Bulletin, comparing anti-nuclear news then and now.

In WISE Bulletin vol. 2 nr. 2 we wrote the cancellation of a reactor project in Egypt: "Plans for the construction of the first Egyptian nuclear power plant have had to be put off. The reason was the unanimous vote of the council of Alexandria. The reactor was to be built at Sidi Kreir, 30 km west of this city. The decision was strongly influenced by the Harrisburg accident and a petition from the population". (WISE Bulletin vol. 2 nr. 2, January/February 1980)

Egypt opened its first research reactor in 1961, which was supplied by the Soviet Union. As early as 1964 it agreed with U.S. Westinghouse for the sale of a nuclear power plant, a project which was later victim of the 1967 Egypt-Israel war. In the mid-1970s Egypt relaunched the project and requested financial aid from the U.S. Export-Import Bank, which was rejected as the bank considered the request (US$600 million - 1 billion) as "far too large".

Egypt ratified the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1981 and had ambitious plans for nuclear energy: 40% nuclear generation by 2000. It signed co-operation agreements with the U.S., France, Germany and Canada. (The Nuclear Fix, WISE, 1982)

Egypt has always blamed Israel for having nuclear weapons, but was also suspected of being capable to develop a nuclear arsenal. It has urged Arab nations to develop its own nuclear weapons against Israel. Egypt has operated a small-scale complex for plutonium extraction and was accused by Israel of cooperating with Pakistan, Iraq and Argentina to build a plutonium producing (research) reactor. (The Risk Report, September/October 1996)

In January this year, Egypt was accused of having conducted secret nuclear experiments. IAEA inspectors traced substances by environmental sampling but the tests had not been reported to the IAEA. The experiments involved the production of components of uranium and plutonium traces in the plutonium extraction complex. The experiments and the building of the plutonium facility had officially to be declared to the IAEA. It would also have involved the production of uranium tetra fluoride, which can point to an enrichment program. Most of the failures to report go back to the 1980/1990s.

An IAEA report late February confirmed the failures to report the illegal activities but downplayed a link to a secret weapon's program. This raised suggestions that IAEA director-general Mohammed El-Baradei, an Egyptian, had tried to cover up Cairo's secret program. Others however consider this "whispering campaign" as an attempt to sabotage a third term for El Baradei.

(The Independent, 5 January 2005; Associated Press, 4 January 2005; The Times of India, 28 January 2005; Middle East Online, 28 February 2005)


ISSN: 1570-4629


Reproduction of this material is encouraged. Please give credit when reprinting.

Editorial team: Tinu Otoki and Dirk Bannink (WISE Amsterdam), Michael Mariotte (NIRS). With contributions from WISE Uranium, Earthlife Africa, Greenpeace France.


Unfortunately an editorial mistake has been made in paragraph 4.1 of the Nuclear Monitor special issue (621/622): 'A back-door come-back. Nuclear energy as a solution for climate change'. On page 12 it says: "many uranium mines are therefore out of use already. This is the case in Namibia, South Africa, Kazakhstan, and with the Olympic Dam mine in Australia".

It should have read:
"Large parts of the presently quoted reserves (about half) are marginal already. This is the case in Namibia, South Africa, Kazakhstan, and with the Olympic Dam mine in Australia".



The next issue (624) will be mailed out March 18, 2005.


Sad news came to us that our dear friend Satomi Oba in Hiroshima, Japan has died. Only in middle age and as active and vital as anyone, her death is a shock to all of us.

Besides numerous other activities and responsibilities, Satomi was also the official WISE/NIRS relay in Japan and personally translated and published the Japanese edition of the Nuclear Monitor. She introduced WISE Amsterdam to the No Nukes Asia Forum in 1997 and since then we have been working together closely, mostly of course by mail but we have always been so lucky to meet her personally a few times a year.

In our joint effort for a true, honest, clean and healthy world she has been an inspiration for the whole network. Brave she was: a woman alone in Japan, taking care of her children and flying all over the globe to spread the word; stop the nuclear madness.

Modest, honest, fragile and strong at the same time, not afraid to speak out and make her point but always willing to seek for a positive outcome. We will miss her. Our thoughts are with her family.

May the good spirit be with her, forever.

From everyone at WISE and NIRS