Civil Nuclear Energy: Egyptian Minister in France

March 9, 2010

The Egyptian Minister of Electricity and Energy, Hassan Younis, headed to France, the world’s second biggest nuclear power producer, on Sunday, March 7th, for a double-duty official trip concerning the issue of peaceful implementation of nuclear energy in Egypt.

On the one hand, according to the Global Arab Network, the Minister is meeting with the delegations of five countries: France, US, Russia, China, and Southern Korea. Those countries are, according to the Global Arab Network, supporting Egypt in its nuclear program. The Minister is cited to have said that “Egypt accomplished a step forward in the nuclear program and awaiting approvals.

On the other hand, the Minister is also expected to attend the International Conference on Access to Civil Nuclear Energy that is to be held at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris. The two-day conference commences today, Monday the 8th of March 2010, and concludes tomorrow and has been organized in coordination with the International Agency of Atomic Energy (IAEA).

The French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, has invited more than 60 countries and 700 international senior international officials. According to the official website of the French embassy in Egypt, the conference is expected to provide a forum for policy-makers, executives of relevant international organizations, managers of relevant industrial companies, “heads of research and training bodies, and qualified public figures involved in the debate” in addition to top-level leaders and official state delegations.

The main purpose of the conference, according to Kuwaiti News Agency (KUNA), is to spawn multilateral efforts that aim at assisting those countries seeking to peacefully implement nuclear energy. The idea is to help foster a domain where nuclear energy can be responsibly developed. In addition, the broader issue of how nuclear and mixed energy can contribute to sustainable development is also on the conference’s agenda.

This conference takes place in a global setting that expresses “renewed interest in civil nuclear energy”, stated a French official, according to AFP. This interest has been traced back to a number of factors, prominent among them are the current disruptive fluctuations in fuel prices as well as efforts to curb the detrimental effects of climate chance.
The soaring fuel prices and environmental concerns have prompted countries to more urgently consider alternative sources of energy, thereby rendering the meeting’s discussion of civil utilizations of nuclear energy a matter of exigency.

Nevertheless, France 24 reports that, “the meeting comes at a sensitive time for nuclear diplomacy”; especially since countries with a disconcerting nuclear history, such as Syria and Libya, will be attending the meeting.

Partaking in the sudden fervor of the global nuclear energy revival movement, the Egyptian parliament is expected to ratify “the first law regulating nuclear activities in the country” in two weeks, writes Focus Information Agency. In addition, according to Xinhua News Agency, Egypt is also expected “to invite tenders for construction contracts by the end of 2010”.

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