Malaysian leaders weigh nuclear options

June 23, 2008 at 4:31 PM

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, June 23 (UPI) -- Malaysia may consider nuclear power generation to meet its long-term energy needs.

Surging oil prices are pushing a growing number of nations to consider nuclear and other alternatives, said Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Razak said the government would look at alternative energy sources, including nuclear power, to help the nation reduce its reliance on oil.

"The prospect of Malaysia opting for nuclear technology cannot be discounted, only that we will look at other alternatives first," Razak said.

The implementation costs of nuclear power plants, however, would be high, and developing the necessary infrastructure could take years.

State power company Tenaga Nasional said it was prepared to use nuclear energy as a replacement if it was directed to do so by the government, local news agency Bernama reported.

"TNB will take about 15 years to develop the infrastructures to use nuclear energy and to find suitable sites," company vice president Ab'llah Mohd Salleh said.

Last year, the government announced the building of Southeast Asia's first nuclear monitoring laboratory to allow scientists to check the safety of atomic energy programs in the region.

The $26 million facility, to be built in central Pahang state, will start operations in 2009, officials said.

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