China privately agrees to step-by-step approach to fulfill Paks Nuke ambitions

October 17th, 2008 - 2:05 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Oct 17 (ANI): A day after 11 pacts were signed in Beijing between Pakistan and China, senior Pakistani and Western officials said that China had privately agreed to follow a step-by-step approach to fulfilling Pakistans aspiration for an expanded nuclear energy program, rather than an ambitious Indo-US-like civil nuclear deal signed recently.

Private discussions are believed to have been held on expanded nuclear cooperation between Pakistan s president Asif Ali Zardari and Chinese leaders during Zardaris four-day visit to China beginning Tuesday.

In ten years, Pakistan plans to produce up to 8000 Megawatts of electricity using nuclear energy, said a report in

According to it, US reluctance to offer a civil nuclear power agreement to Pakistan is mainly because of the revelations in 2004 that its nuclear scientist Dr AQ Khan traded nuclear secrets and technology with Iran , Libya and North Korea .

A senior Pakistani government official, familiar with discussions between Zardari and Chinese officials, claimed that China had agreed to consider further nuclear power reactors to fulfill our needs. The relationship on the nuclear issue remains intact. There is now a complete understanding on our future cooperation, the report quoted the official as saying on condition of anonymity.

But, this is not a first when it comes to China s help to Pakistan in nuclear program. China has installed a 325-Megawatts nuclear power reactor at Chashma, in Pakistan s central Punjab province, and Beijing is also currently working to install a second power reactor of the same capacity there.

In addition to the two Chashma reactors, Pakistan has one Canadian-supplied nuclear energy reactor with a capacity of 137-Megawatts. Western diplomats say Pakistan is seeking to bridge the large gap between its installed capacity and future ambitions with Chinese help.

Western diplomats say China is interested in maintaining a stable relationship with Pakistan for a number of reasons. It sees its relationship with Pakistan as a way to counter-balance growing US ties with India . In the long term, China also considers Pakistan as a conduit to expand trade with the oil rich Middle East to improve its economic and energy-related interests.

According to another Pakistani official, China is eager to avoid a direct confrontation with the West on its nuclear energy cooperation with Pakistan . China is not seeking a head-on clash with anyone. It wants to broaden its relations with Pakistan but without the risk of a stiff US reaction, said the official. (ANI)

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