IAEA informed about new N-plant in Pakistan: China

The state-run China National Nuclear Corp. (CNNC), which has helped Pakistan build its main nuclear power facility at Chashma in Punjab province, is completing a second reactor there and has contracts to build two more 300-megawatt reactors.

According to The Wall Street Journal, CNCC vice president Qiu Jiangang told a meeting in Beijing Monday that the first reactor was operating safely, the second one was now being tested and expected to start formal operations by the end of the year.  "Both sides are in discussions over the CNNC exporting a one-gigawatt nuclear plant to Pakistan," he added, without giving details.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said that the civilian nuclear energy cooperation between China and Pakistan is in consonance with both nations' international obligations.

According to Xinhua news agency, Jiang said China has informed the IAEA of the relevant information concerning the project and has requested the UN nuclear watchdog's safeguards and supervision of the project.

Jiang was responding to reporters' questions regarding international concerns of proliferation of nuclear weapons. Pakistan has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and both the US and India worry that nuclear material might fall into the hands of Al Qaeda and Taliban militants based near the Afghan border in northwestern Pakistan, The Wall Street Journal said.

Officials from both countries expressed concern after China signed a deal in February to build the additional two 300-MW reactors. US officials said such plans required special exemption from the 46-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), which China joined in 2004, and which is supposed to regulate the global nuclear trade.

According to The Wall Street Journal, US acting Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation, Vann H. Van Diepen, suggested before the House Foreign Affairs Committee in July that the US would vote against such an exemption. The US and many other NSG members have long had concerns about nuclear proliferation from Pakistan, especially since A.Q. Khan, its top nuclear scientist, confessed in 2004 to selling nuclear secrets to North Korea, Iran and Libya.

Pakistani foreign ministry spokesman Abdul Basit has also said that Pakistan's nuclear cooperation with China was for civilian purposes.  "The nuclear cooperation between the two countries are in accordance with international obligations and comes under IAEA safeguards," he said.

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