Iran wants nuclear energy programmes for all Muslim states

CAIRO (AFP) — Iran’s top nuclear negotiator on Saturday urged all Muslim countries to follow in the Islamic republic’s footsteps and develop a nuclear energy programme.

“The nuclear issue affects the future of all Muslim countries,” Iran’s top national security official Ali Larijani said upon arriving in Cairo for a visit.

Speaking to reporters at the airport, he called on Muslim countries to “choose the path” of nuclear development.

The insistence by Tehran’s Islamist regime to pursue uranium enrichment has sparked a crisis with the West, which suspects Iran of having military ambitions and seeking to develop nuclear weapons. Tehran considers uranium enrichment to be its right under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and says it wants to use it to make fuel for power generation. US President George W. Bush said Friday that Tehran had “weeks and not months” to accept an EU proposal offering incentives if Iran was to halt its nuclear programme.

Tehran snapped diplomatic ties with Cairo after Iran’s Islamic revolution in 1979 to protest Egypt’s peace deal with Israel and its decision to provide temporary refuge for the deposed shah. Egypt has voiced its opposition to the emergence of another nuclear power in the region but called for a diplomatic solution to the Iranian crisis, while stressing the international community should also address the issue of Israel’s alleged nuclear weapons.

Larijani later held a meeting with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit.

“Larijani’s visit to Cairo aims to explain his country’s point of view towards regional issues, primarily the Iranian nuclear file,” an Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman told reporters.

He added that Abul Gheit and Larijani discussed the controversy over Iran’s nuclear programme in “the light of the proposals presented by European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana during his recent visit to Tehran.” Solana met with Larijani on Tuesday and handed him a new offer of Western trade and political incentives in exchange for a suspension by Iran of its uranium enrichment activities.

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