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China, Pak in talks on new nuke plant

China's main nuclear power company is in talks with Pakistan to build a one-gigawatt nuclear power plant in the South Asian country, a newspaper reported today.

world Updated: Sep 21, 2010 10:04 IST

China's main nuclear power company is in talks with Pakistan to build a one-gigawatt nuclear power plant in the South Asian country, a newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Pakistan's atomic activities have sparked concern in the United States and India, which fear that nuclear material could fall into the hands of Taliban extremists operating near the Pakistani border with Afghanistan.

The state-run China National Nuclear Corp (CNNC), which has already helped Pakistan build a civilian reactor at Chashma in Punjab province, is also finishing a second one there and has agreed contracts to build two others.

"Both sides are in discussions over the CNNC exporting a one-gigawatt nuclear plant to Pakistan," company vice president Qiu Jiangang was quoted as saying by the Wall Street Journal.

Qiu added that the first reactor was running safely, and that the second would be onstream by year's end.

Officials at CNNC had no immediate comment when contacted by AFP.

The United States has conveyed its concerns to Pakistan over the contracts for the third and fourth reactors, saying such plans required special approval from the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

The group brings together nuclear energy states that forbid exports to nations lacking strict International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards.

China joined the NSG in 2004. Pakistan has not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Western fears about nuclear proliferation from Pakistan spiked when scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan confessed in 2004 to sending nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea, although he later retracted his remarks.

Khan, who is revered by many Pakistanis as the father of the country's atomic bomb, was pardoned in 2004 but continues to face restrictions on his movement.

The United States has warned that he still represents a nuclear proliferation risk.