London: In what could severely impede the United States’ efforts towards nuclear non-proliferation, China has reportedly agreed to help Pakistan build two nuclear reactors.
According to a report in The Financial Times, Chinese companies and officials in Islamabad have confirmed the deal, which is yet to be made public by Beijing.
China began building a nuclear reactor in Chashma in Pakistan`s Punjab province in 1991 and work on a second rector began in 2005, which is expected to be completed next year. Under the new agreement, Chinese companies will build at least two new 650-MW reactors at Chashma, the report said.
It quoted a Pakistani government official privy to the discussions with China over the issue as saying : “Our Chinese brothers have once again lived up to our expectations. They have agreed to continue cooperating with us in the nuclear energy field.”
Diplomats in China said that though Beijing has given its formal approval to the deal, there could still be last-minute hitches in the talks between the two governments.
Analysts believe that China’s overtures to Pakistan were primarily because of political reasons, as it wanted to help its ‘old ally’ after the US snubbed Islamabad’s demand for a India like civil nuclear deal.
“China had decided to go ahead with the deal because for political reasons it felt Pakistan should be compensated in some way for the US-India nuclear deal,” the newspaper quoted Mark Hibbs, senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace`s nuclear policy programme, as saying.
“After the dust settled on the US-India nuclear deal, China gravitated towards a position that it will support nuclear commerce if it benefits Chinese industry,” Hibbs added.
It is worth mentioning that the deal between Washington and New Delhi had facilitated nuclear co-operation, even though India has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Hibbs also pointed out that while the White House is concerned over the deal keeping in mind Pakistan’s history of nuclear proliferation, it can not do much as it wants keep Pakistan engaged in Afghanistan and garner Beijing’s support over Iran’s nuclear programme.
He is said that it was difficult for the Obama administration to oppose the deal between Pakistan and China as it has a similar accord with India.