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China, Pak conclude secret deal on nuclear reactor

By Lalit K Jha
March 23, 2013 11:15 IST
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China has secretly entered into an agreement with Pakistan to construct a third nuclear reactor at Chashma in Punjab province that the Obama administration says will violate Beijing's promises under an international anti-nuclear weapons accord, a media report said.

"According to United States intelligence and diplomatic officials, the secret agreement for the Chashma 3 reactor was signed in Beijing during the visit by a delegation from the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission from February 15 to 18," The Washington Free Beacon reported.

The agreement calls for the state-run China National Nuclear Corporation to construct a 1,000-megawatt power plant at Chashma, where two earlier Chinese reactors were built, the American website said.

While there was no confirmation of the news story from Pakistan or China, The Washington Free Beacon quoted unnamed State Department official, who said that such a Chinese move would be in violation of its international promise.

China, which joined the Nuclear Suppliers Group in 2005, agreed not to sell additional reactors to Pakistan beyond the two reactors sold earlier. Under NSG guidelines China is not permitted to sell nuclear goods to any country that is not part of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

"The NSG participating governments have discussed the issue of China's expansion of nuclear cooperation with Pakistan at the last several NSG plenary sessions," a state department official was quoted as saying.

"We remain concerned that a transfer of new reactors at Chashma appears to extend beyond the cooperation that was 'grandfathered' in when China was approved for membership in the NSG," the official told The Washington Free Beacon, which reported that the US is expected to protest the sale at an upcoming NSG meeting in June.

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Lalit K Jha in Washington
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