Several prominent Arab media outlets agree Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's nuclear remark was unusual and a first of its kind. Some of the most important media outlets in the Arab world on Friday broadly addressed the Egyptian president's "nuclear remark" during his joint press conference with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
at the end of their meeting
Thursday in Sharm al-Sheikh.
"Dispute between Munarak and Olmert regarding nuclear weapons and funds for Hamas," called out the main headline of one of the most prominent newspapers in the Arab world, the London-based al-Sharq al-Awsat.
The newspaper quoted Mubarak's remarks on the issue only after he answered the question of an Egyptian journalist.
"Egypt's stance regarding mass destruction weapons was already declared at the beginning of the 1990s in Baghdad at the presence of late President Saddam Hussein.
"We said that the region should be demilitarized of mass destruction weapons and that we don’t want nuclear weapons in the region, or else we would be forced to also bring in nuclear weapons so that we are not attacked at any time," the president said.
The important Lebanese newspaper al-Nahar also stated in one of its main headlines that the Egyptian president "surprised Olmert regarding his plan to possess nuclear weapons.
"President Mubarak declared yesterday for the first time at the end of his talks with the Israeli prime minister in Sharm al-Sheikh that Egypt 'would not stand aside' if the nuclear arms race in the region escalates and that it would be 'forced' to try and equip itself with similar weapons in order to defend itself," the newspaper reported.
One might think that Mubarak's remark was a slip of the tongue or that his intention was misinterpreted. But even the state Egyptian newspaper al-Ahram chose to highlight the issue and signal that this was indeed the president's plan.
The newspaper quoted the interview Mubarak gave to Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, but contrary to the headlines in Israel,
the Egyptians chose to highlight the president's remarks in one of the newspapers headlines: "The mass destruction weapons are a danger to the entire region; we will not stand aside if Iran
possesses such weapons."
The newspaper also presented President Mubarak's full "nuclear remark" in its report on the press conference Thursday.
Sources in Israel viewed Mubarak's remark as extremely important and as the first of its kind. According to the sources, this is the first time the president himself makes such remarks and a senior Egyptian official says so out loud.
The sources added that this was the first response to Olmert's remarks in Germany on Israel's nuclear weapons.
"This testifies to Egypt's future plans. Now no source will be able to come and say that Egypt has no nuclear plans," one of the sources clarified. "But the remarks are not only directed at Israel, but express the ongoing anger in Egypt over the Iranian statement that their nuclear plan is indeed for peaceful purposes, but that if they are attacked it would be used for military purposes."
According to the source, the Egyptians find it convenient to make such remarks opposite the Israelis, as they are accepted with understanding by the public opinion – as an answer to Israel's nukes. But in spite of all this, the remark is against Iran.