Egypt has taken another step toward becoming a nuclear power, drafting a strategy for energy and other projects.

Officials said Egypt has submitted a plan to develop civilian nuclear facilities in cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency. They said the plan would facilitate the procurement of the first nuclear reactors.

“The government completed setting its strategy for executing the project at the end of last month in accordance with international agreements to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons,” Egypt’s International Cooperation Minister Fayeza Abu Al Naga said.

The minister’s statement came in wake of a tour by President Hosni Mubarak to former East Bloc states. Officials said Mubarak discussed assistance for Egypt’s nuclear program from China, Kazhakstan and Russia.

The countries were said to have offered Cairo help in nuclear and missile development. Russia was said to have discussed anti-aircraft cooperation with Egypt.

On November 12, Abu Al Naga told parliament that Egypt required eight nuclear power plants to cover its electricity needs. She said that in the first stage four facilities would be constructed in cooperation with the IAEA.

“Egypt signed agreements with a number of countries regarding the peaceful use of nuclear energy,” Abu Al Naga said. “But it has been over 25 years since then, and the agreements need updating, although they are still valid.”

Parliamentarians were said to have questioned Egypt’s nuclear program. They said Cairo might have not the technical expertise to administer a large-scale nuclear energy project.

However, Abu Al Naga, asserting that the nation would run out of energy reserves by 2040, said Egypt could administer a safe nuclear program. She said the country was experienced in nuclear research and could ensure the protection of the environment.

The Mubarak regime has been garnering support for a nuclear Egypt. The plan has been promoted by Mubarak’s son, Gamal, as well as Egyptian scientists.

Abu Al Naga said Egypt was also seeking nanotechnology. She said an agreement for cooperation would be soon signed with Japan.