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Thursday, 29 March, 2001, 12:53 GMT 13:53 UK
Pakistan opens Chinese-aided nuclear plant

Pakistan has officially opened its second nuclear power plant as part of its programme to meet the country's future electricity demands.

The project is being hailed as another example of the close co-operation between Pakistan and China, which helped in its construction.

The Science Minister, Atta ur-Rehman, who opened the plant at Chashma in central Punjab, said the nuclear energy produced was meant for peaceful purposes only.

The Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission says the country's two plants both observe international safeguards which prevent irradiated fuel from being used in nuclear weapons development.

But critics say there are fears about possible earth tremors in the area near the new plant as well as pollution in the River Indus. The new nuclear power station will provide only a fraction of Pakistan's growing electricity needs, but supporters of the country's nuclear programme say nuclear power is the answer to increasing electricity demands.

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