US objects to Chinese plans to build two nuclear reactors in Pakistan

November 22nd, 2008 - 1:13 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Nov 22 (ANI): The United States has objected to Chinese plans to build two nuclear reactors in Pakistan near Chashma.

Senior Pakistani officials announced last month that China had agreed to build two additional reactors at Chashma, where Beijing has already built one nuclear power station and is erecting another.

The earlier projects were formalized before China joined the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group; the body that sets nuclear trade guidelines, The News reported.

Nuclear Suppliers Group rules bar sales of sensitive nuclear technology and materials to nations, such as Pakistan, that have not joined the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and do not allow international monitoring of all their nuclear activities.

The U.S. position is that cooperation on the construction of two new reactors, Chashma III and IV, would be inconsistent with the commitments China made at the time of its adherence to Nuclear Suppliers Group guidelines in 2004, said US Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Reynolds.

Reynolds was responding to a letter Markey wrote last month to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice expressing concern about the reactor deal.

At that time, Chinas representatives detailed in a statement Chinas ongoing nuclear cooperation with Pakistan that would be grandfathered upon Chinas adherence; nothing in that statement permitted construction of reactors beyond Chashma I and II, Reynolds stated.

Any new cooperation, therefore, would require consensus approval by the NSG for an exception to the guidelines,” he continued. “Although Pakistan’’s energy needs are real and increasing, we believe Pakistan’’s proliferation record would make NSG consensus difficult where China to request an exception.”

Markey praised the State Department opinion and referred to a multinational nuclear smuggling ring once led by top Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan.

“Pakistan is responsible for more nuclear proliferation than any other single country; nuclear cooperation is off the table,” he said in a statement on Friday.

There is no doubt whatsoever that international nonproliferation rules bar China from providing Pakistan with new nuclear reactors, Markey added.

China should not violate its international obligations by selling new nuclear reactors to Pakistan. The US has clearly stated that such a sale would be against international nonproliferation rules, and I hope other countries stand up to deliver the same message, he said. (ANI)

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