BEIJING: “China’s civil nuclear power support to Pakistan is meant to help the time-tested friend to overcome its energy crisis,” said Chinese scholar in a article published in China Daily.
While setting aside the misperception and unfounded allegations in regard to Sino-Pak nuclear deal, an associate professor at Peking University’s School of International Studies said some vested interest groups are pointing a finger at China over the two-country cooperation in nuclear field issue.
He clarified that the sale of nuclear reactors to Pakistan is part of their long-term nuclear cooperation agreements reached in the late 1980s.
Chinese companies joined Pakistani side to build a nuclear plant at Chashma in 1991. By 2000, the first reactor at Chashma was ready to generate electricity. Five years later, Chinese companies began building Chashma 2, which is scheduled to be operational next year.
China and Pakistan both assert that the proposed sale is not only in line with the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) rules, but it is also transparent and peaceful in nature. It has already been clarified officially that the “China-Pakistan cooperation on civilian nuclear energy is consistent with the two countries’ respective international obligations, and is for peaceful purposes and subject to IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) safeguard and supervision”.
The article further said, “India, seen as a long-time foe of Pakistan, seems to be using diplomacy to block the Sino-Pakistani deal, even though it signed a similar deal with the US in 2006. Most China-baiters, particularly in the US, allege Chashma 3 and 4 violate NSG guidelines, which prohibit nuclear states from exporting nuclear technology and materials to non-nuclear states which, like Pakistan, are not signatories to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) and have not adopted IAEA safeguards for nuclear establishments.
Ever since China joined the NSG in 2004, some critics have been saying it has to fulfill its non-proliferation commitment and comply with the group’s rules and guidelines. And because Chashma 3 and 4 were initiated after 2004, they have to be approved by NSG, most probably by seeking an “exemption” solution from its 46 member states as the US-Indian nuclear deal did in 2008.
Non-proliferation proponents have expressed concern over the Sino-Pakistani nuclear deal. But some doubt whether it could be blocked like the 2006 US-Indian nuclear deal was for setting “a dangerous precedent”, because if Washington opposes it openly, it would face charges of exercising “hypocrisy” in non-proliferation.
Ashley Tellis, a senior associate at Carnegie Endowment, who as part of the George W. Bush administration played a key role in negotiating the nuclear deal with India, draws a line between the US-Indian and Sino-Pakistani nuclear deals, saying the latter is not the outcome of a public debate in Washington or in NSG. But the fact is the “integrity” of the shattered global non-proliferation regime was already breached when India, which is outside NPT, NSG and other non-proliferation regimes, was “exempted” and the US-Indian nuclear deal allowed to go ahead.
Pakistan faces severe electricity shortage leading to economic difficulties. The BBC, citing Pakistani government sources, has said Pakistan faces an energy shortfall of 3,668 MW per day. Expanding the nuclear energy industry is one way Pakistan can meet its electricity shortfall, which in turn causes social unrest and extremism. At present, nuclear power comprises just 2.34 percent of Pakistan’s total energy generation.