The Chinese has got away with two new nuclear reactors for Pakistan by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
At the June 23-24 plenary meeting of the 46-nation nuclear cartel in Noordwik, Netherlands, China was questioned about the two new reactors, Chashma 3 and 4, that it announced it would build in Pakistan. But China insisted the deal was “grandfathered”, that is, they said it had been reached before it joined the NSG in 2004.
Indian officials monitoring events said, the brief Chinese statement was enough for the rest of the NSG — even the US — to accept China at its word. “There was no pushback by NSG members,” the officials said.
The US had in March challenged China on the new reactors. On March 18, Robert Blake, assistant secretary in the State Department, said in Beijing, “We expect China to abide by the commitments that it made when it joined the NSG in 2004, and in particular we think the construction of new nuclear reactors such as the Chashma 3 and 4 would be inconsistent with those commitments.” But this position was not held up by others, who let the deal pass.
In Europe, China got a thumbs up from Germany, the biggest power in Europe. Days before the NSG plenary, the German government, in an answer to the Bundestag, reportedly said, “China can export nuclear goods for construction of nuclear power plants Chashma 3 and 4 to Pakistan without violating NSG guidelines.” Germany also argued that “China has explained its position on existing export agreements when it joined the NSG”.
Pakistan’s nuclear sector is managed almost completely by the army. Unlike India, Pakistan does not have to separate its civilian and military nuclear programmes.
China had signed the Chashma deal with Pakistan in 1991, under which it had given a 300-MW reactor to Pakistan and agreed for a second one of 325 MW, also at Chashma. According to nuclear experts, the 1991 agreement with Pakistan was a “general” one, which did not specify how many reactors would be given to Pakistan. When China joined the NSG in 2004, they did not mention any new reactors under the agreement.
The Times of India