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. Egypt against Iran 'developing nuclear weapons'
CAIRO, Dec 3 (AFP) Dec 03, 2008
Egypt supports international efforts aimed at preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit said on Wednesday.

But he also warned against taking military action against the Islamic republic, which is accused by the West of wanting to develop the bomb. Iran insists that its nuclear programme is peaceful.

"Egypt supports international efforts to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons," Abul Gheit said, backing an international diplomatic solution to Iran's disputed programme.

His statement was read out by ministry official Wafa Bassim to a foreign relations council meeting in Cairo.

Abul Gheit said that Egypt supports every country's right to use nuclear energy peacefully. Egypt last year announced the planned resumption of its own nuclear energy programme.

In apparent reference to Israel, the region's only but undeclared nuclear-armed state, Abul Gheit said Egypt would support diplomacy against Iran as long as it "does not use double standards in handling the nuclear issue in the Middle East."

Tehran has long defied UN demands to halt uranium enrichment, and it is under sanctions targeting individuals and institutions involved in its nuclear project.

Uranium enrichment lies at the centre of fears about Iran's nuclear ambitions because the process can be used to make the fissile core of an atom bomb.

Iran, OPEC's second largest oil exporter, insists that it only wants to enrich uranium to make nuclear fuel to meet the growing energy demands of its population.

Tehran has not responded to a proposal by world powers offering incentives including help with peaceful nuclear technology and a light water reactor in return for suspending enrichment.

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