Washington: China should be stopped from going ahead with its move to transfer new atomic reactors to Pakistan which is "not a responsible nuclear power”, a top American Congressman has said.
"Pakistan greatly damaged global security by allowing this rogue (nuclear scientist AQ Khan) free reign in that country. China`s plan to build another two nuclear reactors in Pakistan violates Nuclear Suppliers` Group rules. It should be stopped," Congressman Ed Royce said at a Congressional hearing.
He recalled that years ago, he had raised the issue of the "ring magnets" that China was transferring to Pakistan "to develop a nuclear weapon, that was obviously what was intended on the part of Pakistan”.
Royce, who is co-chair of the Congressional India Caucus, said at the hearing on nuclear cooperation and non-proliferation: "Now we know that China`s irresponsibility in proliferation ... gave rise to the capability of Pakistan, which subsequently trumped China`s irresponsibility with its own, because that knew no limits in terms of AQ Khan`s ability to proliferate."
"So the fact that AQ Khan, supposedly Pakistan`s most popular man, two weeks ago went on Pakistani television and spoke about his future as the nation`s president that should be more than troubling to us in terms of Pakistan and the future. The government there just is not a responsible nuclear power. That needs to be addressed," Royce said.
Participating in the Congressional hearing held by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, several other US lawmakers also expressed concerns about the latest Chinese move to build two nuclear reactors to Pakistan.
"If China proceeds with the sale of the two new reactors to Pakistan, what is the likely impact on the Nuclear Suppliers Group? Should the US attempt to persuade the NSG to disapprove the sale? Should China be expelled from the NSG? What is the cost of doing nothing?" Congressman Joe Wilson asked.
Sharon Squassoni, director and senior fellow in the Centre for Strategic and International Studies Proliferation Prevention Programme, said that the NSG can essentially not disapprove a sale.
"It is a voluntary gathering of nuclear suppliers. There`s nothing that the Nuclear Suppliers Group can do as a body," she said, adding China should not be thrown out of the NSG.
"They are building nuclear power reactors like crazy domestically and they will be a major exporter. So I think we need to keep them in that group. There may be other ways outside of the nuclear realm that we can influence their actions, but I think those reactors are a done deal," she said.
Thomas Graham, former Special Representative to the US President on Arms Control, said: "It`s difficult to see how a proposal like China`s could be stopped within the NSG given the Indian precedent.”
"Perhaps the NSG can be persuaded that this exception for India is India-only and won`t apply to any other country, most especially Pakistan," he said.
"But where does that leave China? My guess is they`d probably go ahead and sell them anyway. It`s not a situation over which we have much control. The NSG is not quite the effective instrument it was, in my judgment, a few years ago, because of various developments," he said.