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Pakistan to buy 6 nuke reactors from China

The purcahse of reactors will significantly increase Pakistan's ability to generate nuclear energy.

world Updated: Jan 03, 2006 21:57 IST

Pakistan is negotiating the purchase of six to eight nuclear reactors from China during the next decade, a media report said on Tuesday.

The purcahse of reactors will significantly increase Pakistan's ability to generate nuclear energy.

The deal could cost between $7 billion and $10 billion and would involve adding 3,600 MW to 4,800 MW of power using a series of 600 MW reactors. The plants are likely to be completed by 2025, with construction starting by 2015, a senior Pakistani official was quoted as saying by the Financial Times.

Pakistan last week passed a law to restrict the sale and export of nuclear technology and know-how as part of efforts to step up cooperation with the world community in civilian nuclear technology.

But the Financial Times said: "Pakistan's increasing reliance on China as main supplier of its nuclear reactors is likely to raise concerns within the anti-nuclear proliferation lobby in the west."

The report also quoted a senior western diplomat in Islamabad as saying that Pakistan's increasing reliance on China might be a reaction to a US offer to sell reactors to India, its neighbour and nuclear rival.

"This could be meant to tell Washington that Pakistan has other options," he said.

The report said the installation of Chinese nuclear reactors would take Pakistan a long way towards meeting government targets of raising nuclear power generation to 8,800 MW by 2030, up from a current capacity of 425 MW.

"Disclosure of negotiations with China follows the formal start of construction last week of a Chinese-supplied nuclear plant at Chashma in Punjab province.

The new Chashma-2 plant is expected to be completed during the next five years and is to be built beside the existing 300 MW Chashma-1, also supplied by China," the report said.

Pakistan also operates a 125MW Canadian-supplied reactor in the southern port city of Karachi.

China has been suspected of assisting Pakistan in the development of its nuclear weapons programme, which led to Pakistan's first nuclear tests in 1998.

The report said Pakistan emerged "at the centre of global concerns about nuclear proliferation in 2004 when it was revealed that AQ Khan, father of its nuclear bomb project, sold nuclear expertise and technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea."

Khan, a national hero and iconic figure in Pakistan, was forced to appear on public television and admit he had made a mistake by selling nuclear technology. He has lived since then under house arrest.

First Published: Jan 03, 2006 21:24 IST