WASHINGTON (Jun. 24)
U.S. considerations in agreeing to provide Egypt with nuclear power technology and supplies included the supposition that “Eastern European countries” would do it if America did not, Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger indicated today. In a five-point defense of the agreement that Congress is committing to close scrutiny, Kissinger declared “There is no reason to suppose” that Eastern European states would not be “quite prepared to engage in discussions” to supply nuclear power plants for peaceful purposes with Egypt and “perhaps other countries in the Middle East.”
Kissinger was responding to questions at a news conference, largely devoted to long statements denying Soviet-American agreements on nuclear weaponry, that the U.S.-Egyptian nuclear accord “opened the door” to the spread of potential atomic bomb manufacture in the Middle East. India’s manufacture of such a weapon from peaceful apparatus supplied by Canada was cited as an example of this danger.
Noting in the first place that the U.S. nuclear agreement with Egypt is also being made with Israel, Kissinger added that the diversion of material in India occurred in a reactor that “did not even have” the safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Additional safeguards for “both reactors”–presumably Egypt’s and Israel’s–include the storage and disposition of production that “we believe are substantially foolproof.” he said.
SOVIETS GAVE EGYPT ONLY TINY REACTOR
In addition, Kissinger observed, the U.S. decision must be seen not in the context of present technology but in the 6-8 years that it takes to construct the reactor. In that period there would be incentives for “moderate behavior and constructive action,” he said. The Soviet Union alone among Eastern European countries has the nuclear power reactors and production capacity. In the 18 years of close relationship between the USSR and Egypt, since the 1956 Suez war, the Soviet Union has restricted its nuclear apparatus to a two megawatt research reactor, according to the Joint Congressional Atomic Energy Committee. The U.S. has agreed to build 600 megawatt reactors in Egypt and Israel. A Soviet source told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the Soviet government has withheld greater capacity because it opposes proliferation of apparatus with atomic bomb production potential and, perhaps more significantly, it has sought to avoid opportunities for other countries to learn the Soviet method of bomb manufacturing.