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Pakistan Outlines Nuclear Energy Goal, Cooperation With China

A Pakistani Foreign Ministry official says his country hopes to generate substantial amounts of electricity from nuclear energy by 2030 based on existing cooperation with China, RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal reports.

Ministry spokesman Abdul Basit told Radio Mashaal that any nuclear activities will be in line with international law and would be only for peaceful purposes.

"This cooperation between Pakistan and China is not new," he said. "And this deal is absolutely according to the IAEA's rules and safeguards."

According to the World Nuclear Association, nuclear power is only a small part of total energy production in Pakistan, supplying 2.34 percent of the country's electricity.

Yet Basit was optimistic about the growth in Pakistan's nuclear energy sector.

"We have [already] been producing nuclear energy with the support of China. Our target is to have 8,800 megawatts of electricity from nuclear energy by 2030," he said. "We need this for our economic development."

The 8,800-megawatt goal comes as Pakistan faces a severe power crisis. The BBC, citing Pakistani government sources, says Pakistan currently faces an energy shortfall of 3,668 megawatts.

Pakistan has for several years sought a deal from the United States to provide nuclear technology for civilian energy production. The United States concluded such a deal with Pakistan's arch-rival, India, in 2006.

But Pakistan found China as an alternative. China has long been an important economic and military partner of Pakistan.

Despite Pakistan's attempts to reassure officials in Washington, the United States remains concerned by Pakistan's nuclear cooperation with China.