China has announced its intention to sell more nuclear power plants to Pakistan. Kyodo News reports:
China has agreed to supply Pakistan with two additional nuclear power plants, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said here Saturday after President Asif Zardari’s just-ended visit to Beijing.
Qureshi told a press conference that the two sides signed an agreement under which China will supply two additional reactors at Chashma, in the Mianwali district of Punjab Province, about 200 kilometers southwest of Islamabad.
Pakistan already has one Chinese-built 325-megawatt nuclear power plant in operation there, while work is under way, with Chinese help, on a second power plant at the same site.
The planned third and fourth reactors, known as C-3 and C-4, are estimated to cost $1.7 billion, with a foreign loan component of $1.07 billion.
But, I hear you cry, doesn’t the Nuclear Suppliers Group ban members, including China, from selling to states that aren’t party to the NPT (except when it doesn’t)?
…Pakistani Foreign Ministry officials said China can supply additional power plants to Pakistan without approval from the Vienna-based NSG, on the grounds that China has already supplied two nuclear power reactors to Pakistan without its approval.
Of course, he ignores the fact that these plants were “grandfathered” when China joined the NSG. But, realistically, all the NSG has at its disposal to enforce its rules is the restraint of its member states. If China does sell the plants to Pakistan what’s the NSG going to do? Write China a very strongly worded letter? Expel it? Because that’d be really effective.
Bush Administration officials have, of course, repeated ad nauseam that the India exemption was a one-off and that Pakistan is a totally different case. But, if they haven’t realized it already China doesn’t share their world view much of the time. They may yet succeed in talking China out of this sale (although I’m not holding my breath), but it’s hard to imagine China announcing this agreement had the US-India deal not happened.