Saturday, January 15, 2011


China should be stopped from going ahead with its move to transfer new atomic reactors to Pakistan, which is 'not a responsible nuclear power', a top American Congressman has said.

"Pakistan greatly damaged global security by allowing this rogue (nuclear scientist A Q Khan) free reign in that country. China's plan to build another two nuclear reactors in Pakistan violates Nuclear Suppliers' Group rules. It should be stopped," Congressman Ed Royce said at a Congressional hearing.

He recalled that years ago he had raised the issue of the "ring magnets" that China was transferring to Pakistan "to develop a nuclear weapon, that was obviously what was intended on the part of Pakistan."

The 46-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group, of which China is a member, bans atomic trade with most countries that have not joined the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Beijing, though, has contended that constructing the new reactors at Pakistan's Chashma site would not violate its NSG commitments because it had built two reactors at the location before joining the organization.

India received the right in 2008 to import nuclear materials and technology from NSG member states even though New Delhi had not signed the nonproliferation treaty (see GSN, Sept. 8, 2008). Although Pakistan has only a minimal chance of winning a similar exemption, Indian government sources were concerned that NSG members could endorse Beijing's right to build additional reactors at the Chashma location, according to the Times of India.

“As far as we know, the pre-2004 pact accounted only for the Chashma 2 reactor and maybe some other research reactors. For several years, there was no mention of any further nuclear reactor to Pakistan by the Chinese. It’s only now, after India secured a clean waiver for nuclear commerce, that this entirely new deal has come up,” one official said.

India's lack of proliferation history distinguishes it from Pakistan, the source added (see GSN, May 28).

“We have to wait and see what happens. In case [a Pakistani nuclear trade] exemption is sought, an economic powerhouse like China can influence many nations into backing it. However, there can’t be an easy way out of this by allowing Beijing to grandfather the deal,” the official said (Sachin Parashar, Times of India, June 20).

"India is ... in touch with partners at the Nuclear Suppliers Group and [officials] have explained its position on the issue during the interactions at various levels and have expressed its reservation to Beijing at [the] diplomatic level," Asian News International quoted a government source as saying.

Pakistan's nuclear work should adhere to NSG and International Atomic Energy Agency rules, Indian officials added (Asian News International/, June 20). Islamabad indicated Thursday that its nuclear trade with Beijing is strictly peaceful in nature and under IAEA monitoring, the Associated Press of Pakistan reported (Associated Press of Pakistan, June 17).

Top diplomats from involved countries could address the matter in a meeting on Thursday, officials suggested (Asian News International).

BEIJING: China has agreed to build two new civilian nuclear reactors in Pakistan, a report said on Thursday, amid persistent concerns about the safety of nuclear materials in the restive south Asian state.

Chinese companies will build at least two new 650-megawatt reactors at Chashma in Punjab province, the Financial Times said.

China began building a reactor at Chashma in 1991 and broke ground on a second one in 2005, which is expected to be completed next year, it said.

A statement posted on the website of the China National Nuclear Corporation on March 1 said financing for two new reactors at Chashma was agreed by the two sides in February.

A spokeswoman for the corporation, which oversees China's civilian and military nuclear programmes, said she was unaware of the deal when contacted by AFP on Thursday.

"Our Chinese brothers have once again lived up to our expectations," the Financial Times quoted an unidentified Pakistani official as saying of the deal, which would help Pakistan cope with a crippling energy crisis.

"They have agreed to continue cooperating with us in the nuclear energy field."

US President Barack Obama convened a summit in Washington earlier in April that pledged renewed world efforts to secure and safeguard fissile materials from falling into the hands of militant groups.

At the summit, Chinese President Hu Jintao said Beijing "firmly" opposed atomic weapons proliferation, while backing civilian uses.

Reports have said Washington is concerned over the security of nuclear materials in troubled Pakistan, where the Taliban movement is waging a bloody offensive.

In 2004 Abdul Qadeer Khan -- revered by many Pakistanis as the father of the country's atomic bomb -- confessed to sending nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea, although he later retracted his remarks.

Washington is currently seeking Chinese support for new sanctions on Iran over the Islamic republic's disputed nuclear programme.

The Financial Times quoted an expert as saying China likely felt emboldened to go ahead with the deal after the United States signed a civilian nuclear agreement with Pakistan's arch-rival India in 2008.

The agreement facilitated nuclear cooperation between the world's two biggest democracies despite India's refusal to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.