(Newsroom America) -- Now that Egypt is embroiled in turmoil, concern in some U.S. intelligence sectors has grown over the North African nation's weapons of mass destruction programs, said to include research and development into nuclear, chemical, biological and missile technologies, NBC News reported.
Documents obtained by NBC from the U.S., Russia and Israel indicate that Egypt has conducted plutonium and uranium processing experiments, helped Saddam Hussein develop his missile and chemical programs in Iraq, and worked with North Korea on missile programs, NBC reported, citing interviews with U.S. intelligence officials and reviews of intelligence documents.
"If we found another country doing what they’ve done, we would have been all over them," a former U.S. intelligence official told NBC, which reported that Egypt has been conducting its WMD research and development for the past 30 years.
But the U.S. has overlooked Egypt's weapons development because Cairo has been a reliable and stable U.S. ally in what is one of the world's most volatile regions, NBC said.
The worry now is that if President Hosni Mubarak is forced to step down before next September's elections, his replacement could install a regime hostile to U.S. and Israeli interests.
Egypt is the only Middle East nation to have signed a peace treaty with the Jewish state, but officials in Tel Aviv - who are watching developments in Egypt carefully - have voiced similar concerns about who would replace Mubarak and whether any new regime would honor the treaty.
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