Pak-China nuclear cooperation

Sobea Tabbasum

Tuesday, December 14, 2010 - China has announced to give two more nuclear reactors at Chashma to extend its exports as one reactor is completed and the other is on the way of completion. This export is going to face some criticism especially by US and India that how china export nuclear reactor to Pakistan that is NNWS according to NPT and not under full safeguard of IAEA. Along with that this export is against the obligation and guidelines of NSG of 46 states. China’s stand on these questions is that this deal is the continuation of the agreements of 1980s when china neither join NPT nor NSG and this export is linked with the 2003 export of nuclear reactor to Pakistan. So, the obligations NSG cannot apply on this deal China did not need to get waiver of NSG.

First of all it is condemned on the basis of the obligations of Nuclear Supplier group that materials and technology designed specifically for nuclear use including fissile materials, nuclear reactors and equipment, and reprocessing and enrichment equipment (part I) needed to get comprehensive IAEA safeguards, and Pakistan is not under the full safeguards of IAEA and not the signatory of NPT.

It is a fact that Pakistan is not the signatory of NPT but on the other side there are other states that did not signed NPT but getting fuel from the signatory of NPT and members of NSG as; India got nuclear fuel from Russia in January 2001 when 32 of 34 NSG members were against it .US is going to give nuclear supply to Israel and nuclear safety of previous reactors. I want to compare Pak-China nuclear deal with Indo-US Nuclear deal as importers (Pakistan and India) are non nuclear weapons states according to NPT and exporters China and US) are the signature of NPT and members of NSG. Both importers are not under the full safeguards on IAEA but India got exception as a waiver in NSG in 2008.Indo-US nuclear deal contradict with the waiver of NSG as; the nuclear deal of 2008 between US and India presents a picture of improvement of Indian nukes both qualitatively and quantitatively as “The assurance of nuclear fuel supply from the US and the NSG would free India’s existing capacity to produce highly enriched uranium and plutonium for its nuclear weapons program…Under the deal, India shall…have the capability to produce 50 warheads a year.” Along with that India is allowed to reprocess the spent fuel from the imported nuclear reactor and can convert it into the fuel for its fast breeder reactor, and this would not come under IAEA safeguards.

Qualitative improvement can be done as; Indo-US nuclear deal did not have any provision that shows that India will give up its right to nuclear testing. Indian scientists had been given an access to advance US nuclear technologies under the IAEA safeguards. India conducted a long term negotiations with the countries of NSG and in 2008 got the exception that no need of comprehensive safeguards by IAEA. When we look at the origin of NSG, it was created after the nuclear test of India in 1974, when India diverted the fuel to its weapon program. If India can be given exception in this era then why not Pakistan as in the case of Pak-China nuclear cooperation Pakistan always use imported reactor from china for peaceful purposes. The clauses of agreement signed on September 15, 1986 between Foreign Minister of Pakistan Yaqub Khan and his Chinese counterpart in the presence of Chinese Premier and PAEC chairperson Dr. Munir A. Khan at Beijing showed that, China would construct; four nuclear plants in Pakistan named; Chashma 1, 2, 3 and 4 by 2011. But for this cooperation in this era critics says that Pakistan’s domestic instability and its past role spreading nuclear arms technology demands that China’s nuclear plans there in Pakistan at least come under strict international safeguards. But with a glance on previous cooperation between two states Pakistan and China, we find out that the reactors provided by China to Pakistan is under the safeguard and now two more reactors are the continuation of the export of 1980s agreement and it is under safeguard of IAEA as; Chashma pressurized water reactor (300 MW) is Under IAEA safeguards, fueled by low-enriched uranium; no known connection to weapons program.

US demanded the terms and exact draft of export from china in a way to decide that whether it is for peaceful or explosive purpose and expected that china will announce its initiative in NSG meeting taken place on June 24–25, 2010 in New Zealand. US is going to pressurize china not to export these reactors on multilateral forum not bilaterally because it did not want to lose china’s support in sanctioning against Iran and North Korea in UN and its economic partnership. No expected conclusion was being made in this regard because the Chinese initiative was not the formal agenda of that meeting. India had a clear position its non-proliferation efforts and get waiver but Pakistan earned a bad image previously. Now while looking at the point that weather the waiver in NSG is needed for Pakistan or not there are two options that if Pakistan go for the waiver then its previous record named A.Q Khan case can bring doubt in the minds of NSG and they must object it but on the other hand if it succeeded to get the waiver then this can open the way for Pakistan to export reactors and technology from 46 supplier states as India is going to get from Japan, France and so on after 2008.

Factor of reciprocity of international law presents that when a power is going to conduct cooperation with a state in the region, then the rival of that state must have to cooperate in a way to balance the gap within the region. While looking at the benefits of this supply china is getting not only economic benefits but on one side it is exporting old reactors to Pakistan and new ones to the other importing states. On Pakistan side it is not beneficial to us to import readymade reactors but the need is to get technology and reactors should be made here in Pakistan. India adopted this tact and now it is not only the importer but also an exported in a way an export the nuclear technology to smaller states as Myanmar. Pakistan is needed to be farsighted in this regard if it wants to be developed state and earn a name not as a importer but as a exporter.

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