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China to build two nuclear reactors in Pakistan

world Updated: Apr 29, 2010 20:25 IST

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China on Thursday acknowledged that it will build two new nuclear reactors in Pakistan in a deal that could re-ignite concerns about proliferation and safety of atomic materials in Pakistan.

After comments made by China National Nuclear Cooperation (CNNC) that it will build at least two 650 MW reactors at Chashma (near Rawalpindi) in Pakistan, a foreign ministry spokesman said the two countries were cooperating in the field of nuclear energy.

Jiang Yu, affirmed Beijing's cooperation with Islamabad saying it was consistent with international obligations under International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) supervision.

Jiang said this cooperation respects international obligations for peaceful use of nuclear energy and accepts IAEAs regulations and supervision.

The Chinese spokesman did not directly refer to financing the two reactors.

China is proposing to build these reactors under the new agreement .

Beijing built a nuclear reactor in Chashma in 1991 and is nearing completion of the second reactor, work on which began in 2005, Financial Times reported.

The paper said the decision to supply reactors to Pakistan, which has a nuclear arsenal and a record of dealing with states such as North Korea, Libya and Iran, reflects Beijing's growing diplomatic confidence.

"It also reflects Beijing's ambition to become a global supplier of nuclear energy and underscores its views of Pakistan as a prized South Asian strategic partner."

"Our Chinese brothers have once again lived up to our expectations. They have agreed to continue to cooperate with us in nuclear energy field," the paper quoted a Pakistani government official as saying.

The CNNC said on its website that the two governments had signed an agreement to finance the construction of the two reactors in February.

Shanghai Nuclear Engineering Research and Design Institute said it had been hired to design the two reactors.

The Financial Times quoting Western diplomats in Islamabad said that US was likely to accept China's growing role as a supplier of nuclear power to Pakistan.

The confirmation of Chinese assistance in building two more reactors in Pakistan comes even as the country's President Hu Jintao recently told a nuclear summit in Washington that Beijing formally opposes nuclear weapon's proliferation, while backing its civilian uses.