Egypt says accepts US invite to meet on Nile dam dispute

A general view of The Nile River, houses and agricultural land from the window of an airplane in Luxor, Egypt October 9, 2019. (Reuters/ File Photo)
Updated 23 October 2019

Egypt says accepts US invite to meet on Nile dam dispute

  • Egypt's foreign ministry said late Tuesday that Cairo had "immediately accepted" the invitation from Washington
  • The Nile serves as a crucial artery for water supplies and electricity for the 10 countries it runs through

CAIRO: Egypt has accepted a US invitation for a meeting with Sudan and Ethiopia over a protracted Nile dam dispute, the foreign ministry said.
The meeting, to be held in Washington, would bring together foreign ministers from the three Nile basin countries to try to break the stalemate in talks on Ethiopia's giant hydropower dam.
Egypt's foreign ministry said late Tuesday that Cairo had "immediately accepted" the invitation from Washington, without specifying when the meeting would take place.
Egypt has urged international mediation after saying the latest round of Nile talks that ended earlier this month had hit another "deadlock", following nine years of thwarted efforts.
Ethiopia, which says its project is needed to provide much-needed electricity, has insisted the dam would not harm downstream countries' water shares.
But Egypt is concerned the huge dam would severely reduce the flow of Nile waters and invokes its "historic rights" under decades-old treaties.
On Tuesday, Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said in parliament that "no force can stop Ethiopia from building the dam", adding that millions could be mobilised if necessary.
However, he emphasised that negotiations would be the best means to resolve the issue.
Last week, Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced he would hold talks with the Ethiopian premier in Russia.
Both leaders are attending a Russia-Africa summit in Sochi this week.
Ethiopia has said the $4-billion dam will begin generating power by the end of 2020 and be fully operational by 2022.
The Nile serves as a crucial artery for water supplies and electricity for the 10 countries it runs through.
Its main tributaries -- the White Nile and the Blue Nile -- converge in Khartoum before flowing north through Egypt to drain into the Mediterranean Sea.
Analysts fear the three Nile basin countries could be drawn into a conflict if the dispute is not resolved before the dam begins operating.


UN watchdog confirms Iran nuclear breach

Updated 12 November 2019

UN watchdog confirms Iran nuclear breach

  • Discovery of uranium particles is further evidence that Iran still developing nuclear weapons program: Expert

JEDDAH: In the latest breach of its nuclear deal with major world powers, Iran has started enriching uranium at its underground Fordow facility, the UN’s nuclear watchdog confirmed on Monday.

Tehran’s enriched uranium stock has continued to grow, the experts added, as Iran contravenes the limits set by the deal on its nuclear activities.

Iran announced last week that it had begun enriching uranium at its Fordow site, which is buried inside a mountain. This is prohibited by the 2015 nuclear deal, more formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

In its quarterly report, the International Atomic Energy Agency, which polices the deal, confirmed the Iranian announcement was true.

“Since Nov. 9 ... Iran has been conducting uranium enrichment at the plant,” according to the confidential IAEA report, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters and also seen by AFP. 

“The agency detected natural uranium particles of anthropogenic origin at a location in Iran not declared to the agency.” Anthropogenic means that the particles are the result of human activity and not naturally occurring.

Opinion

This section contains relevant reference points, placed in (Opinion field)

The report also confirmed that Tehran has ramped up its enrichment of uranium, and its stockpile of enriched material has reached the equivalent of 551 kilograms, almost double the 300 kg limit laid down in the nuclear deal.

Experts described the Iranian enrichment activity as a serious breach of the agreement.

“The discovery of the uranium particles is part of the evidence that Iran is continuing to experiment and develop its nuclear weapons program, or at least components of it, in order to keep processes up to date,” said Theodore Karasik, a senior adviser to Gulf State Analytics in Washington, DC.

The fact that the particles were discovered in an undeclared area is a major violation that will add to the atmosphere of distrust and increase the challenges facing the European states that seek to keep Iran in the JCPOA framework, he added. 

President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the nuclear deal in May 2018.

Karasik said the current breach goes far beyond previous contraventions.

“Iran plays a game with numbers in terms of centrifuges and enrichment schema,” he explained. “The violation here is much more egregious than any in the past as it deals with a previously undisclosed location outside of Tehran. As we can see, Iran is not genuine in its approach ... so trust is difficult, if not impossible.”