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Last Updated: Friday, 29 September 2006, 14:08 GMT 15:08 UK
Egyptian views on nuclear plans
Egypt - along with Turkey - recently announced plans to build nuclear power plants.

The BBC website asked three Egyptians if they approved of the move; if they thought it would lead to an arms race; and how worried they were about Iran's nuclear ambitions.

AMAL, 33, TRANSLATOR, CAIRO

This is not new, we did have a nuclear energy programme before, until the 80's.

But look who announced it. It wasn't the government, but the president's son, Gamal.

He's paving the way for his own future in politics.

The programme is for peaceful energy reasons, so it's OK.

In the region, Israel has nuclear weapons, Iran is making a fuss and Turkey may be heading the same way.

We can't be left too far behind or we'll be eaten alive.

Egyptians have a hunch something bad will happen in the future.

At the cinema, every movie you see is about the end of the world.

We do need to be as strong as the others

When I hear the word nuclear, I don't think of nice things. I think - Hiroshima. I connect the word to weapons, not energy.

I don't think Egypt will use its programme to further its prestige. We are a moderate country. Not a trouble-maker.

If we did build a weapon, it would be for defence, not for offensive reasons. But we do need to be as strong as the others.

We don't really know if Iran's nuclear programme is actually peaceful, or if it is building a weapon. Iran has everyone on a string, and every country has a reason to be afraid of Iran.

Iran was the only victor from the recent conflict; not Hezbollah, not Israel, not Lebanon.

The west has tried to court Iran in every possible way, but until now, Iran has the upper hand.

RAFIK ANTOUN, 27, SOFTWARE ENGINEER, CAIRO

Rafik Antoun

I think Egypt should use nuclear power for civilian applications.

Our resources of petrol and gas are not promising for the next decade. At the same time, it might be a chance to join the rest of the world in getting new technology.

I don't think Egypt's current government would want to take things a step further and build a nuclear weapon.

But support for radicals is increasing. If the radicals got to power, they might have it in mind to do such a thing.

I don't think the timing of Egypt's nuclear announcement is a coincidence.

Iran wants to be the regional superpower, so it wants to drive Egypt out of that spot. Egypt has noticed and wants to compete in the nuclear arena, so it's not left behind.

Egypt might use its nuclear programme as a tool for prestige, like Iran is doing. Iran has a lot of petrol, but we don't.

We need to find a different source of energy if we want our economy to grow.

I don't trust the current Iranian regime. I believe it poses a threat to the Middle East and the whole world. I think it is planning to make a nuclear weapon and we need to monitor what it's doing.

But I don't think we should use violence to stop it, this would make the situation worse.

It will be a few years before Iran can make a bomb. The issue would best be played out in the political arena. If there is a way to make the regime fail, to make Iranians feel that the regime is threatening their future, that would be best.

Iran cannot be pushed around like Iraq was

Europe wants negotiations with Iran and I think that's better than the more stubborn approach of the US.

A country with the size and weight of Iran cannot be pushed around like Iraq was.

Iraq's minority Sunni regime was toppled quite easily. But I think there's a lot of support in Iran for the way it's run. Although it's not the democracy it claims to be; at least the country chose the president.

I think many Egyptians do want Iran to have nuclear weapons. Radicalism is growing here. They see that Iran is radical, so they think we should support it.

I am a Christian Copt, which means I am in a minority. Radicalism is dangerous to minorities like me.

HAMDI QINAWI, 29, TRANSLATOR, CAIRO

Nuclear power is a clean energy and it is not expensive.

Egypt's demand for electricity grows by six or seven per cent each year.

I'm not sure if this is a genuine policy decision or a way of reminding the public that Gamal Mubarak, the president's son, is going to be somebody important.

I hope it is a serious decision; it is a good one, anyway.

I am 100% sure this was agreed with the United States before it was announced.

We even have the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert saying he's not threatened by it. Which also makes me think it was agreed beforehand.

Isn't Israel more of a threat to the Middle East?

I don't think the announcement has much to do with Iran; although I suppose the US may see this as a way of counterbalancing Iran.

Egypt is the leader of Arab nations; it is not at loggerheads with the US. We are a friend of the world's superpower.

My only fear is that one day the US could use our nuclear programme as an excuse to attack us.

Friends of today are enemies of tomorrow, for the US.

I don't think Iran is a threat. Every country has the right to peaceful nuclear power, as long as they abide by the provisions of the UN.

Isn't Israel more of a threat to the Middle East? It is a member of the atomic club, but at the same time it says it doesn't have weapons.

Israel has sophisticated technology and has been working on it for years, so it is very advanced.

There should be co-operation between the IAEA and Iran. But this applies to all countries, including Israel.


SEE ALSO
Q&A: Iran nuclear stand-off
18 Sep 06 |  Middle East
Egypt press law 'violates rights'
11 Jul 06 |  Middle East
Egypt's taste for reform sours
11 May 06 |  Middle East
Egypt extends its emergency laws
30 Apr 06 |  Middle East
Egypt asks US body to halt work
06 Jun 06 |  Middle East
Egyptian judges come out in force
25 May 06 |  Middle East

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