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WikiLeaks: US questions China’s nuclear safety

China has “vastly increased” the risk of a nuclear accident by opting for cheap technology that will be 100 years old by the time dozens of its reactors reach the end of their lifespans, according to diplomatic cables from the US embassy in Beijing.

world Updated: Aug 27, 2011 00:41 IST
Jonathan Watts

China has “vastly increased” the risk of a nuclear accident by opting for cheap technology that will be 100 years old by the time dozens of its reactors reach the end of their lifespans, according to diplomatic cables from the US embassy in Beijing.

Cables released this week by WikiLeaks highlight the secrecy of the bidding process for power plant contracts, the influence of government lobbying, and potential weaknesses in the management and regulatory oversight of China’s fast-expanding nuclear sector.

In August, 2008, the embassy noted that China was in the process of building 50 to 60 new nuclear plants by 2020.

This target — which has since increased — was a huge business opportunity. To keep up with the French and Russians, the cable urged continuous high-level advocacy on behalf of the US company Westinghouse to push its AP-1000 reactor.

This is crucial, according to the cable dated August 29, 2008 from the American Embassy in Beijing, because “all reactor purchases to date have been largely the result of internal high level political decisions absent any open process.”

The Guardian