'Egyptian President Mubarak 'turned down' black-market nuclear weapons deal'

Cairo, Dec 20 (ANI): Maged Abdelaziz, Egypt's ambassador to the UN said that the country's President Hosni Mubarak had 'turned down' a black-market nuclear weapons deal following the collapse of the Soviet Union, according to secret US diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks.

Egypt was reportedly offered nuclear weapons, material and expertise on the black market after the collapse of the Soviet Union,

According to the Guardian, Abdelaziz made the revelation to America's top negotiator on nuclear arms control, Rose Gottemoeller, in a conversation reported in a leaked US cable in May 2009.

The paper quoted the cables as saying that the subject came up in a discussion of the creation of a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East, a foreign policy priority for Cairo.

"Finally, in an apparent attempt to portray Egypt as a responsible member of the international community, Abdelaziz claimed that Egypt had been offered nuclear scientists, materials and even weapons following the collapse of the Soviet Union, but Egypt had refused all such offers," the cables said.

"A/S [assistant secretary of state] Gottemoeller asked him how he knew this to be true, to which Abdelaziz replied he was in Moscow at that time and had direct personal knowledge," they added.

Meanwhile Maria Rost Rublee, an expert on the history of Egyptian nuclear programme, said she was told by three well-informed sources, including a former Egyptian diplomat, military officer, and nuclear scientist, that "non-state actors" from an unnamed former Soviet republic had tried to sell nuclear material and technology to Egypt.

"Mubarak refused. He was very cautious, even over nuclear energy, and cancelled plans for a programme after Chernobyl," she added. (ANI)

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