During a high-level meeting, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani approved the construction of two new nuclear plants at Chashma in Punjab province, sources told PTI, adding these plants are expected to be built with Chinese assistance.
The September 19 meeting attended by top officials of the military and Strategic Plans Division, the body that oversees the country's nuclear arsenal, had drawn up plans to acquire new nuclear plants and a satellite communications system.
The Chashma complex, located about 200 kms southwest of Islamabad, already has two atomic power plants one that is functional and other that is expected to be completed in 2011.
Pakistan plans to build 10 nuclear power plants at six sites across the country in the next 22 years and President Asif Ali Zardari will seek fuel technology from China for future atomic plants during his forthcoming visit to that country, The News daily reported on Wednesday.
The plants are aimed at generating 8,800 MW of nuclear energy in the next two decades, a senior government official said.
The six sites selected for the new plants are Qadirabad-Bulloki link canal near Qadirabad Headworks, Dera Ghazi Khan canal near Tuansa barrage, Taunsa-Punjnad canal near Multan, Nara canal near Sukkur, Pat feeder canal near Guddu and Kabul river near Nowshera, the report said.
Pakistan also plans to establish a nuclear power fuel complex at a cost of Rs 51.2 billion to locally fabricate fuel to be used in future nuclear plants.
Authorities have also drawn up plans to train manpower needed for the nuclear programme. A capacity building programme had been launched at a cost of Rs 491.42 million, including a foreign exchange component of Rs 166.70 million, for this purpose, the official told the daily.
About 200 to 300 professionals are needed for each new plant and another 600 to 800 professionals are required for project management, design, engineering construction and installation of nuclear plants, the official said.
"The currently available manpower for this purpose is less than 150 persons," the official said. The selected professionals will also be trained for competency in the Chinese language to enable them to communicate with vendors and manufacturers in China, he said.
The Pakistani professionals will be provided some on-the-job hands-on training in the Chinese nuclear industry.
Following progress in the Indo-US civil nuclear deal, Pakistan has stepped up efforts to acquire atomic technology and know-how to maintain parity with its neighbour. During a visit to the US in July, Prime Minister Gilani demanded a nuclear deal similar to the one with India.
"There should be no preferential (treatment), there should be no discrimination. And if they want to give civilian nuclear status to India, we would also expect the same for Pakistan too," Gilani had then said.