France to help develop Saudi, Egyptian, Gulf nuclear programs

France has injected fresh momentum into the Middle East nuclear race by inviting Gulf nations to take a minority stake in the French nuclear giant Areva (CEPFi.PA), debkafile‘s military sources report.
After a meeting with French president Nicolas Sarkozy Friday, March 13, the emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Jaber Moubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, said the two leaders discussed the possible purchase of French military materiel and the issue of energy and nuclear reactors. He also referred to Kuwait and other Gulf countries taking a one-to-five percent stake in the world’s biggest builder of nuclear reactors.
Paris has a separate deal with Egypt.
The cash-strapped Areva is 90-percent state-owned. Investment from partners in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia could also help Areva strengthen its standing in a region that is interested in developing nuclear energy
Areva is the only nuclear concern dealing with all aspects of nuclear energy production – from uranium mining and its enrichment to the recycling of nuclear waste. The US is represented on its board of directors by AREVA Inc.
The Bush administration signed contracts for building nuclear power-generating industries with Saudi Arabia (Dec. 2, 2008) and the United Arab Emirates (Jan. 15, 2009). Our Middle East sources report that the proposed Arab stake in the French corporation came up in US president Barack Obama’s conversation with Saudi King Abdullah Friday ahead of OPEC’s weekend conference. He presumably asked how the French connection fitted in with these contracts.
debkafile: Potential Gulf involvement in the French nuclear industry has four key aspects:
1. A one-to-five percent stake may only be the starter for more substantial control.
2. Paris is ready to open its international nuclear establishment for Arab interests to come in by the front door.
3. The Gulf states can be expected to use this access to win a dominant role in the world’s two leading energy markets – oil and nuclear power.
4. They can also use their access to advanced nuclear technology for creating the infrastructure for developing a military nuclear industry to rival Iran’s. According to debkafile‘s military sources, Saudi Arabia’s weapons program is already a lot more advanced that officially admitted.
Right after Washington signed its nuclear contracts with Saudi Arabia and the UAR, an official in region remarked: “The clear message to Iran is: If Tehran insists on pursuing its nuclear program, we the Arab countries in the region are going to have one too, although without enrichment.”

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