Egypt says may seek atomic arms if Iran does: leaks

Thu Dec 2, 2010 4:05pm GMT

By Alexander Dziadosz and Marwa Awad

CAIRO (Reuters) - President Hosni Mubarak warned U.S. officials that Egypt might develop nuclear arms if Iran obtained atomic weapons, cables made public by Wikileaks showed.

A U.S. ambassador described Egypt, recipient of billions of dollars of American aid since making peace with Israel in 1979, as a "stubborn and recalcitrant ally" in a February 2009 cable.

The cables revealed differences between Arabs. Qatar's prime minister said Egypt was stringing out mediation talks between Palestinian rivals in the peace process for as long as possible.

The United States has condemned the leaks.

A May 2008 cable quoted Mubarak, whose country does not have diplomatic ties with Iran, telling a group of U.S. officials that "we are all terrified" about a possible nuclear Iran.

"Mubarak said that Egypt might be forced to begin its own nuclear weapons program if Iran succeeds in those efforts."

A July 2009 cable quotes Egypt's intelligence chief Omar Suleiman telling U.S. officials that Iran was harbouring extremists, a hurdle to resuming ties severed for three decades.

Suleiman said Egypt was wary of Iran's influence through its Hezbollah and Hamas proxies and its support "for Egyptian groups like (al-Gama'a al-Islamiya) and the Muslim Brotherhood," but that Iran could not "challenge the international community now".   Continued...

<p>Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak attends a meeting with South Africa's President Jacob Zuma at the presidential palace in Cairo October 19, 2010. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh</p>
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