The United States on Monday indicated that it is favourably inclined to the civilian nuclear deal between China and Pakistan, but it should be in compliance with the rules of Nuclear Suppliers Group.
"We will seek to make sure that, should this deal go forward, it is in compliance with the rules of the Nuclear Suppliers Group," State Department spokesman P J Crowley told reporters at his daily press briefing.
Crowley was not sure if the issue specifically came up for discussion between the US and China during the ongoing Strategic and Economic Dialogue between the two countries in Beijing.
"I don't know if this will come up during the Secretary's (of State) meetings in China this week. We are talking to China more broadly about the implications of this deal," Crowley said.
Earlier in the day, two noted American scholars on South Asia said that there are signs of the Obama administration softening of its position towards Chinese- Pakistani nuclear cooperation.
US officials have avoided pressing China against moving forward with a deal to supply two new nuclear reactors to Pakistan, they said. "The Obama administration's policy contrasts with that of the previous Bush administration, which actively discouraged additional Chinese assistance to Pakistan's nuclear programme," said Lisa Curtis and Nicholas Hamisevicz of the Heritage Foundation.
"Given the widespread proliferation that resulted from the Pakistan-based A Q Khan network-as well as continued concerns about the existence of terrorist networks in Pakistan that seek access to nuclear weapons technology-a nod from Washington to further Chinese-Pakistani nuclear cooperation is shortsighted," they said.
They said that the argument that the China-Pakistan nuclear reactor deal should be seen in the same light as the US-India civil nuclear deal discounts the vastly different proliferation records of Pakistan and India, the different oversight requirements generally imposed by the US compared to China, and the prevalence of Pakistan-based terrorist groups seeking nuclear weapons technology.
The two scholars argued that an Obama Administration decision to allow the China-Pakistan nuclear deal to advance unhindered would be a high-stakes diplomatic gamble and a short-sighted move.