China to Construct Nuclear Reactors for Pakistan


China has finalized plans to build two new nuclear power reactors at Chashma in Pakistan, the Financial Times reported yesterday (see GSN, Nov. 21, 2008).

Beijing’s still-unannounced agreement to build the 650-megawatt reactors, reported by Chinese firms and officials for both countries, could hamper U.S. efforts to garner Chinese support for new U.N. Security Council sanctions against Iran, according to the Times (see related GSN story, today). The Obama administration has been courting Beijing on Iran, but also has concerns regarding nuclear nonproliferation. Nuclear-armed Pakistan was the epicenter of a black-market ring that provided atomic goods to Iran, Libya and North Korea.

China opted to build the reactors because “for political reasons it felt Pakistan should be compensated in some way for the U.S.-India nuclear deal,” said Mark Hibbs, senior associate with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s nuclear policy program (see related GSN story, today; Financial Times, April 28).

Washington is also fearful about the safety of nuclear materials in Pakistan, where extremist groups are prevalent, Agence France-Presse reported today (Agence France-Presse/Times of India, April 29).

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