China to help Pakistan build two more nuclear reactors

October 18th, 2008 - 7:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, Oct 18 (DPA) Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Memhood Qureshi Saturday said China has assured the country to help build two more nuclear power reactors to overcome its energy crisis. An agreement was signed during President Asif Ali Zardari’s recent visit to China, Qureshi told a news conference in Islamabad.

“These two new units will increase electricity production by 680 megawatts, which will have positive effect on Pakistani economy,” he said.

Both plants are expected to be built at Chashma, about 300 km southwest of Islamabad, in eastern province of Punjab.

China has already installed a 325-megawatt reactor at Chashma and is currently working on another with the same capacity that is expected to begin producing in 2011.

Pakistan is facing a deficit of 4,000 to 5,000 megawatts, resulting in between eight and 18 hours of daily power outages.

It is looking desperately for means to meet the supply shortage and plans to produce up to 8,000 megawatts using nuclear energy in 10 years.

Islamabad and Beijing also signed an agreement under which China will launch Pakistan’s first telecommunications satellite, PakSat-1R, in 2011.

With a lifespan of 15 years, the satellite will be put in orbit by a Long March 3B rocket to be launched from Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in the southwestern Sichuan province, the project’s chief contractor China Great Wall Industry Corp said early this week.

Chinese companies also pledged to invest $1.2 billion in various sectors in Pakistan by June next year.

The developments came a week after India, Pakistan’s arch-rival and neighbour, signed an atomic pact with US, which is a key ally of Islamabad in fight against terrorism but has ruled out a similar nuclear deal with it.

Relations between Islamabad and Washington have strained because of recently intensified US airstrikes inside Pakistan on suspected hideouts of Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters launching cross-border attacks on international forces in Afghanistan.

Zardari’s government is under public pressure to pursue a “look-eastward” policy and to rely less on the US, which is considered an unreliable friend by many Pakistanis.

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