US asks china not to help Pakistan build new nuclear plants

November 21st, 2008 - 10:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Nov 21 (IANS) The US has asked China not to go ahead with plans to construct two more nuclear reactors in Pakistan without a “consensus” approval from the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), a “difficult” task to achieve in view of Islamabad’s proliferation record.”Although Pakistan’s energy needs are real and increasing, we believe Pakistan’s proliferation record would make NSG consensus difficult were China to request an exception,” a senior State Department official said in a letter to Democrat Congressman Edward J. Markey.

In the letter released by Markey, a non-proliferation hawk, Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs Matthew Reynolds said Washington has already communicated its “position clearly” to Islamabad and Beijing that the proposed construction of two more nuclear reactors in Pakistan should not move forward.

“We have communicated our position clearly to our Chinese and Pakistani interlocutors at multiple levels in Washington, Beijing, and Islamabad, and have made plain our view that proposed cooperation on Chasma III and IV should not move forward,” Reynolds wrote.

The US position is that cooperation on the construction of two new reactors, Chasma III and IV, would be inconsistent with the commitments China made at the time of its adherence to the NSG guidelines in 2004.

“We also have been in contact with other NSG members, a number of whom have expressed similar concern at the recent reports,” Reynolds said. “The US has sought and continues to seek clarification from Islamabad and Beijing on this matter.”

In a statement, Markey said the State Department letter “unambiguously confirmed that providing any new nuclear reactors by China to Pakistan is not allowed by the rules of the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG), which governs international nuclear trade.”

Reynolds’ letter was in response to a list of detailed questions sent by Markey, a senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee and the founder and co-chairman of the House Bipartisan Task Force on Non-proliferation, to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice on the possibility of a China-Pakistan nuclear deal.

“There is no doubt whatsoever that international non-proliferation rules bar China from providing Pakistan with new nuclear reactors. This is clear from a plain-language reading of the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group Guidelines, and I am very pleased that the Bush Administration has agreed with this view,” Markey said.

In his Oct 23 letter to Rice, Markey pointed out that “the provision of new nuclear reactors to Pakistan would violate NSG guidelines.” In its response, the State Department agreed that the proposed nuclear deal between China and Pakistan would “require consensus approval by the NSG for an exception to the guidelines,” he noted.

Asking China not to “violate its international obligations by selling new nuclear reactors to Pakistan,” Markey hoped “other countries stand up to deliver the same message. Pakistan is responsible for more nuclear proliferation than any other single country; nuclear cooperation is off the table.”

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