CAIRO, Apr 16 (Reuters) A leading member of Egypt's opposition Muslim Brotherhood today said he saw no harm in an Iranian nuclear weapon because it would help restore the balance between Israel and the Arab and Muslim world.
Mohamed Habib, deputy leader of Egypt's main opposition group, told Reuters that Washington's motive for opposing Iran's nuclear programme was to ensure Israel's survival and military dominance over Arab and Muslim countries.
Iran says its nuclear programme is only to generate electricity and it has no intention to make nuclear weapons. Israel, which refuses international nuclear inspections, is believed to have some 200 nuclear warheads.
Habib, whose group has about one fifth of the seats in Egypt's parliament, said he believed Iran's programme was peaceful.
But he added: ''Even at the minimum, according to the theory of nuclear deterrence, even if Iran had a nuclear weapon, that would help to face Israel's nuclear arsenal.
''That would help to create a kind of equilibrium between the two sides -- the Arab and Islamic side on one side and the side of Israel on the other,'' he added.
Asked if he meant the Brotherhood would welcome an Iranian nuclear weapon, he said: ''I see no harm in it.'' He said he thought most Egyptians agreed with the Brotherhood view. ''I imagine so because it is unreasonable that Israel or the Zionist entity should be the only party in the region which contains 200 nuclear warheads,'' he said.
On the US campaign against Iran's nuclear programme, he said: ''The real motive is to ensure the existence of the Zionist entity and ... to guarantee the overwhelming superiority of the Zionist entity over all the Arab and Islamic countries.
''There is not the least threat to the countries of the region, as well as to America itself.'' Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, founded in 1928, has offshoot and sister organisations in Jordan, Syria and other Arab countries. The Palestinian group Hamas, which won elections in January, calls itself a wing of the Brotherhood.
Egyptian political analyst Mohamed el-Sayed Said said Egyptians did not share Washington's view of Iran.
''People are very very warm about it (the Iranian nuclear programme),'' he told Reuters.
''No one has bought (into the idea of) this whole aggressive veto against Iran's nuclear programme, with the fact that the United States has just rewarded India for its programme, and Israel is in the background of all this,'' he added.
The Egyptian government position is that neither Iran nor Israel should have nuclear weapons and that the dispute between the United States and Iran should have a diplomatic solution.
Reuters SI GC1932