Egypt won't give up on nuclear dream
A heated dispute between Egyptian scientists and wealthy tourist investors over the proposed site for Egypt's first nuclear plant has taken a dramatic turn, after ten famous scientists vowed to pursue their battle to the bitter end to fulfil their 30-year-old dream. Their threat came after the scientists received a warning from a group of heavyweight tourist investors to strike camp and leave. The astonished scientists were also told they would have to bear the consequences if they refused to comply with the order. The curious controversy erupted shortly after President Hosni Mubarak officially gave the go ahead to Egyptian physicists and nuclear scientists to use their internationally acclaimed experience to help Egypt earn its ticket to the club of world countries producing nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. Feasibility studies conducted by Egyptian scientists in collaboration with representatives of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) suggested that an area called Al-Dabaa on the North Coast (near Mersa Matruh) would be the best location in the country for building the nation's first nuclear plant. Having been handed the baton by the President of the Republic, the excited scientists announced an international tender for major international companies with experience in this field to throw their hat in the ring. The intensity of the dispute persuaded frustrated peace-makers to appeal to the Prime Minister to intervene before the tourist investors could defiantly flex their financial muscles in the face of the scientists, who are waiting humbly for someone to come to their aid. The former Chairman of the Egyptian Nuclear Authority, Professor Hafez Heggi, believes that the battle could rage for long. “Admittedly, Al-Dabaa overlooks three beautiful Mediterranean bays, but these investors should be charged with treason, as they're only concerned about their own interests and profits at the expense of anything else,” he says angrily. “They're involved in a large-scale conspiracy sought to undermine the nation's nuclear dream altogether.”Perhaps the tourist investors might seriously consider surrendering, if they knew that, according to the former Chairman, the nuclear agency has so far spent more than LE2 billion on landscaping the proposed site. “Bedouin tribes have also received compensation to dismantle their tents and leave the area,” he adds, warning that the nation's nuclear dreams would be frustrated if the Egyptian scientists were compelled to construct their nuclear plant somewhere else. “If we were given a different site, the Egyptian nuclear project would be delayed for another five years, while we prepared it.” If the project were indeed moved from Al-Dabaa, it would cost the State LE22 billion in the form of five years' worth of fuel used to run local factories. Heggi's colleague, Mahmoud Barakat, agrees. “If investors were allowed to seize Al-Dabaa, it would be a shocking crime,” he says.The scientist told Al-Mousawar magazine that the claims about a nuclear plant in Al-Dabaa frightening off tourists are all nonsense. “Very few tourists come to Al-Dabaa anyway,” he commented.