Mark HibbsMoving forward on China, Pakistan, and the NSG

Just a couple of weeks after I joined the Carnegie Endowment at the beginning of March last year, I found myself in a musty agricultural exhibition hall in east Beijing,  across Dongsanhuan Beilu from the Sanlitun diplo quarter. In the corner of one wing of that Mao-flavoured building, an engineering subsidiary of China’s leading nuclear state-owned enterprise, China National Nuclear Corp, displayed on a panel all the nuclear facility construction projects it had on its plate through 2015.

One of these listed projects was construction of two new PWRs at the Chashma site in Pakistan. That was interesting because until then there had been only rumors and unconfirmed assertions by officials in Islamabad that this deal was in the bag. Here in a drafty corner of a Chinese nuclear industry exhibition, where bussed-in Chinese reactor engineers took their furtive cigarette breaks, we had something in black and white which looked like an official Chinese confirmation that CNNC was in fact about to build more power reactors in Pakistan.

During the rest of 2010 I raised this issue in a modest spate of articles and media interventions, before, during, and after the Nuclear Suppliers Group held its annual meeting, in Christchurch last June. Carnegie flagged this because, of course, in 2008, the U.S. persuaded the NSG to award India an exemption to its nuclear trade sanctions, which were in fact triggered by India’s post-1968 nuclear explosive test and subsequent absence of full-scope safeguards on all its nuclear activities. By 2010, China, which had acquiesced at the NSG to the US request for the India exemption—while making known to the group it favored this to happen on the principle of “non-discrimination”—had joined  the US, Russia, and France in preparing to export nuclear reactors to non-NPT states on behalf of its ally Pakistan.

The problem at hand was, however, that under NSG guidelines which China pledged to adhere to when it joined the group in 2004, China agreed not to export nuclear reactors to Pakistan. Before China joined the NSG, it signed contracts to set up two PWRs at Pakistan’s Chashma site, as provided by a pre-NSG Sino-Pak cooperation agreement. According to people who were on hand when China joined the NSG in 2004, Beijing then even spelled out to NSG participating governments that it had no intention to sell any more power reactors to Pakistan beyond Chashma-1 and -2, and that China enumerated what was on its list of goods that it had committed itself to export to Pakistan under that old trade agreement.

The NSG’s other 45 members last year did not have a common response to China’s resolve in exporting two more reactors to Pakistan. During the 2010 NSG plenary meeting, a number of states—including the U.S.—requested clarification from China about its intentions. Chinese officials provided only vague assurances that all current and future Chinese exports would follow NSG guidelines—suggesting to many at the meeting that China tacitly implied that the new exports to Pakistan were “grandfathered” under the old trade deal. Last spring, the US Department of State spelled out it would certainly take issue with that version of events.

It’s now a year later. The NSG this week is meeting again, in Noordwijk, and that meeting is set to conclude on Friday, June 24.

In the meantime,  Pakistan has continued beating the drum that it should be accorded nuclear trade rights on par with India’s,  China and Pakistan have been going forward in preparing to build the reactors (Pakistan officials told me in Islamabad a couple of months ago that they were beginning civil construction for the foundation of Chashma-3) and the NSG braced for another testy tete-a-tete with China during its forthcoming annual closed-door conclave.

At Carnegie, we were working on this.

Yesterday, Toby Dalton, I, and George Perkovich published this Policy Outlook on our website in an effort to focus international attention on the Sino-Pak-NSG conundrum.

We have been watching what is happening in China and elsewhere in response to Fukushima. We think there is an opportunity for China, Pakistan, and the NSG to rethink this issue.

The politically correct status quo course of inaction—which appears to be veering toward a don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy of tacitly accepting Chinese grandfathering of its trade with Pakistan—won’t work. It will further erode the NSG’s credibility in the shadow of the US-India deal. It will permit China and Pakistan to brush off NSG rules. Pakistan would get old reactors from China which won’t seriously address its real-time energy deficit, and won’t comply with safety standards which after Fukushima the world will demand for new nuclear projects.

Instead, moving forward on the basis of what we propose for NSG to think about would give the NSG, Pakistan, and China an opportunity. The NSG can establish criteria and a roadmap for other countries without full-scope safeguards to qualify for civilian nuclear cooperation; it can put the group in the position of raising the nonproliferation bar for future NSG membership; and it can incentivize China and Pakistan to make their nuclear trade legitimate in an NSG process acceptable to all NSG members.

We’re not naïve. We know there will be fierce opposition to this from those who will argue that the NPT—and its 1968 nuclear test cut-off date—is set in stone. But the alternative to what we propose is that China and Pakistan will proceed without conditions. To them, the US-India deal was a game changer.

More broadly, India, Israel, and Pakistan are nuclear-armed states. These are facts on the ground. The next step for India would be full membership.  The Obama administration is advocating this. Many NSG states—more than the number which resisted the US-India deal from 2005-2008—are not prepared to roll over. They can now set the crossbar for future membership. While the approach we recommend for China and Pakistan is about nuclear cooperation, not NSG membership, there could be a carryover. In either case, NPT states outside the NSG should also be brought into this process to understand that a criteria-based approach can result in a modern and robust benchmark which will provide the world greater security against the threat of nuclear weapons proliferation.


  1. InsiderThreat (History)

    Questions for the Record Submitted to
    Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
    Senate Foreign Relations Committee
    April 5, 2006

    Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) Guidelines Proposal


    Do you anticipate that China might seek additional reactor exports to Pakistan as a result of the US-India nuclear initiative and the proposed exception to the NSG Guidelines you are seeking for India?


    While occasional news articles have speculated in this respect, we are not aware at this time of any plans on the part of China to seek additional reactor exports to Pakistan.

    China became a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1992; it is obligated under Article I not in any way to assist, encourage, or induce any non-nuclear-weapon state to manufacture or acquire nuclear weapons. China pledged in 1996 not to provide assistance to any unsafeguarded nuclear facilities in any country. As part of its joining the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) in 2004, China disclosed its intention to continue cooperation with Pakistan under the grandfathering exception to the NSG Guideline provisions requiring full-scope safeguards as a condition of nuclear supply. This cooperation would include life-time support and fuel supply for the safeguarded Chasma I and II nuclear power plants, supply of heavy water and operational safety service to the safeguarded Karachi nuclear power plant, and supply of fuel and operational safety service to the two safeguarded research reactors at PINSTECH. As a member of the NSG, China has pledged – and is expected – to abide by the NSG Guidelines on the transfers of nuclear equipment, technology, and material.

    If China did seek to provide additional reactors to Pakistan, it would need NSG accommodation. The NSG operates by consensus, so China would need the support of all other participating governments to proceed. We do not believe that the 45 member states of the Nuclear Suppliers Group would agree to such an accommodation, and we do not support such an initiative with Pakistan.

  2. mark (History)

    IT, thanks for this, very illuminating. Two points are noteworthy:

    1.) Condi said in this response to SFRC that in 2006 USG had no information that China intended to sell more reactors to Pakistan. That contradicts the claim put forth by some US-India deal advocates that USG knew all along that China aimed to keep exporting to Pakistan and that therefore China’s decision in 2010 to go ahead with this trade was not a response to the US-India deal. That claim is unsubstantiated, partisan, and perhaps even intellectually dishonest. More generally, it doesn’t take a lot of human psychology to understand that after the US sought and pressed NSG to award a trade sanctions exemption for India, with China’s support, it would be natural for China to want reciprocation.

    2.) Rice’s list of what China would grandfather under its nuclear cooperation agreement with Pakistan is identical to what I have been told by NSG participating government officials who were at an NSG plenary meeting in 2004 when China was asked to enumerate what it would in the future provide Pakistan under that agreement, i.e., no more power reactors.

  3. Mansoor Ahmed (History)

    China and Pakistan concluded a comprehensive civil cooperation agreement on Sept. 15, 1986 in Beijing, which was prior to China’s signing the NPT and entry into the NSG. This 1986 deal provided for a broad framework for peaceful nuclear cooperation opened the way for the conclusion of separate agreements for the supply of four 300 MW power reactors at the Chashma Nuclear Power Complex, under IAEA safeguards.

    This Nuclear Power Complex was originally planned in the 1970s by PAEC and was desgined to have been part of a long-term nuclear power program. It was supposed to have been developed with international cooperation and would have comprised a fuel fabrication and a commercial scale fuel reprocessing plant at Chashma. Pakistan did complete the fuel fabrication plant at Kundian on its own by 1980 and is now completing the commercial reprocessing plant.

    These facilities were primarily intended to service six 600 MW power reactors, all under safeguards. However, international embargoes and the French cancellation of the Chashma reprocessing deal effectively stopped progress on the Complex for several years until the 1986 Sino-Pakistan agreement opened the way for civil nuclear cooperation. At that time, no other country was willing to offer Pakistan any power reactors, even under safeguards, except for France which offered the sale of a 900 MW power reactor in 1990.

    Thus the Qinshan type power reactors were and still remain Pakistan’s only available option in the absence of any better political, financial and technical alternative.

    It is rather ironic that a non-NPT country like India has very conveniently been accorded waiver by the NSG and it is likely to receive multi-billion dollar nuclear energy deals under the 123 Agreement, which itself will directly contribute to India’s increase in fissile material production. In this context, it is rather strange that Pakistan-China cooperation in civil nuclear energy- which is very modest compared to what India is likely to get- is causing discomfort in the United States.

  4. Sukhjinder (History)

    I think the don’t ask don’t tell policy works well. we should give Vietnam some more reactors. I think that will certainly make china think twice. giving nuclear reactors to a state sponsor of terror, I’m not sure that helps NSG credibility.

  5. mark (History)

    Sukhjinder, please take a look at the list of things we propose that Pakistan would have to do before it obtained nuclear commerce from NSG states including China. You’ll agree that that would certainly exclude state support of terrorism.

  6. krepon (History)

    Thanks for posting, Mark, and thanks to IT, too.

    Islamabad was bound to ask Beijing (more than once) for power plants after the US-India nuclear deal was struck and after its approval by the NSG. Beijing was bound to say ‘yes’ to its all-weather friend. If Washington and other presumed proft takers could twist arms to reach consensus on a deal that subverted the NSG’s objectives and purposes, then Beijing could disengenuously ignore the consensus rule. Then Washington was bound to seek a reaffirmation of the consensus rule that it had previously weakened.

    It took no great gift of prophecy to predict this.

  7. Sukhjinder (History)

    India’s Nuclear deal was an exception and exceptions are not given to every other country. India’s clean waiver was given because of the character of the country. India has adhered to the non proliferation principles right from day one unlike Pakistan and china who run a nuclear walmart till date.
    Non proliferation should the main objective and not NPT.
    NPT exists because of non-proliferation and not the other way around. Also by including china what has NSG benefited ? signing a treaty does not mean anything if that state/country is not committed to it. It was with great difficulty that India got waiver and not through some back door channels.Once you talk about Pakistan a whole range of countries specially brazil, argentina will start to opt out of NPT. NPT will start to unravel at an even faster rate. also iran will be more emboldened because both these countries have the same behavior with respect to nuclear proliferation. NSG thought that china will behave differently once it was included in the group, that did turn out to be the case. After pakistan we would talking about a nuclear deal with iran, because it won’t stop at pakistan, also syria would be asking for the same. all the countries to whom pakistan/china has proliferated would ask for the same deal.

    if anybody else I think taliban should also be part of the proliferation talks, because sooner or later they get their hands on the nuclear material.

    NPT will be dead, even if talks about including pakistan in future. such a blatant proliferator has no place in NSG. already brazil and argentina are not very happy with their NPT status, the moment pakistan is included all bets are off.

    • Andrew (History)

      If the U.S. and India are good enough for a waiver, then eventually Pakistan and China will be good enough for a waiver, ad infinitum. It’s the entire problem with using a political framework instead of a technical and objective criteria based framework (which is arguably lacking in a variety of arenas)

      Would India like to set the old precedent and renounce its nuclear cooperation?

  8. Sukhjinder (History)

    isn’t a division between nuclear weapons and non nuclear weapons state a political framework ( there was no objectivity behind it when it was created back in the 70’s )
    we can talk about it on and on but unless the participating countries are held responsible for there behavior you can sign all agreements with little utility. take for example china, they are still proving nuclear know how to iran, they helped to build nuclear arsenal for both north Korea and Pakistan. what criteria was set for china back in 2004, NADA zilch. like I said again it boils down to behavior. in any case the inclusion of china in the NSG back in 2004 was the greatest setback for the entire non proliferation regime. I think NSG should outline a fresh set of principles for china, and if it doesn’t comply it should expelled out of NSG and should bared from doing further nuclear trade. now that would set some real objectivity. Including the states with nuclear weapons into NSG in the hope that they will change behavior over time by some magic isn’t very objective, that would be a fantasy. setting the criteria for china to get out of NSG should be the first objective for NSG. how come china doesn’t help to resolve the north korean nuclear issue, what is the problem with china. at the very heart they are still a communist regime ( plainly a military regime ), all these problem are of political in nature at end of the day. as of today the biggest proliferation risk comes from china and some method has to evolve for china to be expelled out of NSG.

  9. yousaf (History)

    Agree 100% with Michael Krepon. Providing nuclear know-how to non-weapons NPT states, and not providing it to non-NPT states, is part of the NPT bargain — see Art. IV.

    (It is an unfortunate fact that such nuclear know-how is dual-use by its very nature.)

  10. Sukhjinder (History)

    is proliferation also part of some article of the NPT ?.
    we should not be upset about iran or syria having acquired nuclear material. in that case what iran has done is nothing illegal and china’s help to iran is in accordance with the NPT article IV. great I never knew about article IV about NPT. when India was given waiver in 2008 it was with consensus.

    • yousaf (History)

      It is a fair argument that proliferation could indeed be part of the NPT bargain, or at least a collateral consequence — think of it as a “bug” or “feature” of the NPT.

      Article IV

      1. Nothing in this Treaty shall be interpreted as affecting the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination and in conformity with Articles I and II of this Treaty.

      2. All the Parties to the Treaty undertake to facilitate, and have the right to participate in, the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials and scientific and technological information for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. _____Parties to the Treaty in a position to do so shall also co-operate in contributing alone or together with other States or international organizations to the further development of the applications of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, especially in the territories of non-nuclear-weapon States Party to the Treaty, with due consideration for the needs of the developing areas of the world.______

      [emphasis added]

      Of course, nuclear energy know-how is hard to separate from nuclear weapon know-how. Thus the “bug” with the NPT.

    • yousaf (History)

      Re. Iran, there is certainly some confusion on this in the world press, but the consensus view of the 16 US Intelligence agencies is that it does not have a currently on-going nuclear weapons’ development program — with “high confidence”:

      quote: “Senator Levin, during the questions, got Clapper to confirm that the intelligence community has a “high level of confidence” that Iran “has not made a decision as of this point to restart its nuclear weapons program” “

  11. yousaf (History)

    BTW, Daryl Kimball strongly advocates against Indian membership in the NSG:

  12. Daryl Kimball (History)

    Mark and others:

    Your proposal for Pakistan and the NSG would take us backwards not forwards. In my latest post criticizing the Obama proposal for Indian membership in the NSG , I argue that it is naive to believe that “criteria-based” guidelines that allow nuclear trade with Pakistan will “incentivize” better nonproliferation behavior on the part of Islamabad or Tel Aviv.

    Further eroding NSG and NPT standards will only embolden the nuclear establishments in these countries and ours and would undermine the viability of the NPT itself.

    And yes, the NPT matters and I am a bit disappointed that the current crop of CEIP analyst would suggest that it doesn’t.

    The vast majority of the 189 NPT member states have remained true to the original NPT bargain and forsworn nuclear weapons in return for access to peaceful nuclear technology under strict and verifiable control. Many of these states made this choice despite strong pressure to spurn the NPT and pursue the nuclear weapons path. They might make a different choice in the future if India, Pakistan, and Israel are allowed to have their radioactive cake and eat it too.

    Just last year, all NSG members and all other NPT member states agreed that “new supply arrangements” for nuclear transfers should require that the recipient accept IAEA “full-scope safeguards and international legally-binding commitments not to acquire nuclear weapons.” For the foreseeable future, that should effectively rule out nuclear trade and NSG membership for Pakistan and Israel.

  13. Sukhjinder (History)

    Daryl Kimball suggests that India should take much more commitments like signing CTBT etc before NSG consider it’s membership. what commitments did china ( the biggest proliferator of nuclear material in history ) had to take when it was granted membership of NSG. don’t worry NPT won’t unravel because of India. but it will definitely starts to unravel if the proliferation from china continue.
    I think he is just to much worried about non-proliferation, what he should worry about are the proliferator’s.

    • Daryl Kimball (History)


      I took issue with China’s entry into the NSG … but two wrongs don’t make a right and, by the way, the Chinese have signed the CTBT and as far as we know stopped producing fissile for weapons.

      If the NPT “unravels” it will be from a cumulative set of setbacks. The India nuclear exemption is only one, but its a factor.

  14. mark (History)

    Daryl, I’m sorry to hear that you don’t think it is worth giving our proposal a chance.

    If I follow your logic, there can only be a way out of this dilemma if India, Israel, and Pakistan (and for that to happen probably the NPT weapons states as well) give up their nuclear weapons–turning the clock back to 1968 or even before 1945. That will take awhile! What we propose shouldn’t take that long to find out if it can produce positive results.

    Just a couple of remarks concerning your intervention on this blog post:

    First, the “criteria-based guidelines” which you mention are not themselves meant to “incentivize” China. You may be putting the cart before the horse. The criteria would be the outcome of a process which would begin by providing incentives for China and Pakistan to suspend commerce. Incentives would include substantial benefits for China such as access to IPR, which China otherwise may not obtain.

    While the process we propose would open up the horizon for legitimate nuclear commerce to non-NPT states, it would also provide an opportunity to include criteria which are not currently conditions for nuclear trade. The net result could be an increase in global nuclear safety, security, and sustainable development, not an erosion of standards. Take a look at the list of conditions we set forth.

    We don’t say the NPT doesn’t matter. We argue in fact that, unlike the process which led to India’s exemption from NSG guidelines in 2005-2008, non-NSG parties should be informed, involved and included.

    But we also realize that the real world has some ways moved beyond the NPT, whether we approve of that or not. The NPT Review Conference is not the only world stage. India and Pakistan are now significant players and are nuclear-armed. The NPT’s non-nuclear weapons states–in the context of NPT review conferences–routinely exhort all parties to condition new nuclear trade to FSS. These states, including important champions of the NPT, in the IAEA board room and at the NSG three years ago permitted the US-India deal to happen without registering a single dissenting vote.

    • Daryl Kimball (History)


      To be clear, I didn’t say “it isn’t worth giving your proposal a chance,” I said it takes us backwards.

      And I think there are some practical and political problems with the premise upon which it is based:

      – you say the the credibility of NSG is undermined when states like China sell reactors to Pakistan in violation of the group’s voluntary rules. I agree. What does the NSG gain, however, by creating a new set of rules that makes such reactor sales to Pakistan permissible? I would point out that France and Russia sold India uranium in the past in violation of NSG rules and the U.S. response was to call a violation a violation.

      – you say the world has moved beyond the NPT … another way to look at it is that all of the world is in the NPT except four countries. It doesn’t make sense to me to give those four countries a free pass.

      I am not, as you seem to think I’m saying the solution is to wait until India, Pakistan, and Israel just give up their nuclear weapons. I don’t think we can turn back the clock to pre-1968. That’s silly and is not what I am suggesting.

      Rather, I subscribe to the school of thought expressed in the Carnegie “Universal Compliance” report of a few years ago that these three nuclear-armed states should be held to the same standards expected of the other nuclear armed states, though not given all of the rights of NPT states because they have chosen not to join the NPT.

      – In principle, I like the idea, which is part of your proposal, to outline standards for responsible behavior that non-NPT states (and other states perhaps) should meet before becoming eligible for nuclear commerce. The practical problem is that the NSG can do that but will likely have very little impact on whether those states meet those standards because their decisions are governed by security and not energy considerations. That’s why India resisted the Bush administration’s early efforts to get it to agree to cut off fissile production as part of the exemption decision.

      – Finally, what is the “problem” you are trying to fix? And does your proposal really address it? And does it create other problems? As you can tell I am skeptical.

      I’d welcome the chance to talk about this further or even have a public panel discussion on the matter.

  15. Arch (History)

    I have three questions/comments, based on Mark’s Carnegie report and subsequent comments here:

    1) How can we be sure that Chashma-3 and -4 will use 1970’s-era technology? There will certainly have been changes to improve safety and operations since the first two units were constructed. And after Fukushima, there will be many retrofits for existing reactors, just like there were after TMI;

    2) It seems to me that the deals on all of the reactors (and everything else China has provided Pakistan) are an important part of the China-Pakistan strategic relationship. At one level, it may be accurate to assume that China and Pakistan are somehow incentivized to consummate the “grandfathered” deal (for that is surely what it will be) as some sort of tweaking or payback for the contortions the India deal caused the Chinese to go through. But while the deal permits China to highlight the resulting inconsistencies in the regime for political effect, the strategic relationship with Pakistan trumps in importance any opportunity to just make a point in international fora. As mentioned in the Carnegie report, China-Pakistan is an “all-weather” relationship;

    3)Why can’t China work through the next two reactors with the grandfather justification and in the process transfer technology so the Pakistanis can do the work themselves on the follow-ons?

    P.S. – for those who have lived in DC, I find it interesting that there is another PEPCO. Maybe that explains that load-shedding thing?

  16. mark (History)

    Arch, here you go:

    1.) The question you ask about safety upgrading is a good one and we have considered it in the process of preparing the proposal. There certainly have been and will be operational upgrades and some engineering changes made in the Chashma reactors over time. Some basic design features of course cannot be altered. This topic was extensively treated by German regulators and the government’s TSO in considering the life extensions of older power reactors during the last 5 years. Owner-operators argued that these incremental upgrades improved safety to the extent that they were “as safe” as state-of-the-art reactors available today. German federal and state regulators, and German courts, said they were not, and in some cases regulators asserted that the difference in probability of a serious core damage accident between a new and a 40-year old unit would be perhaps as great as two powers of 10. In particular, little or nothing could be done to significantly improve the capability of the civil structures at older German reactors to withstand critical external events.

    2.) I would agree with you that the Sino-Pak relationship is strategic and political, and that that has been a key driver of the reactor sales. But China’s calculus of what its overriding interests are may change if it is presented different possible outcomes. After Fukushima and with other incentives, it may be willing to rebalance its civil nuclear relationship with Pakistan.

    3.) Pakistan doesn’t have a turnkey nuclear power plant industry. For good reasons, today there are literally just a handful of nuclear plant vendors in the world. Joining that group would require Pakistan to make billions of dollars in capital and know-how investment and involve a time line of perhaps two decades–independent of any technology transfer for these reactors from China to Pakistan. Pakistan’s nuclear regulator is a serious organization. They (and the outside world!) would want to be assured that a home-made Pakistan PWR would be safe.

    • Arch (History)

      Thanks, Mark. But I guess I still have more questions, like:

      Why would Pakistan accept an old design without improvements to address safety concerns?

      Why would China’s strategic interest not outstrip its interest in being on good terms with the NSG (I guess I already said that)?

      Since China has already notified the IAEA to be ready for #’s 3 and 4, with approval by the Board, why would anyone try to alter the deal?

      Since China is one of the only remaining countries in the world where you can buy a nuclear plant, why not buy from them if you are Pakistan? It’s not like they can go anywhere else (until the French get an NSG waiver). Given China’s emergence into international institutions over long years, so long as it doesn’t make for any limitation on their freedom of action, they will join, maybe respect the letter of the law, and continue, as they do, to question the rules of the club they joined.

      The only non-starter I see in your and others thoughtful proposal is the idea that China will stop collaborating/building/designing with Pakistan.

      Sometimes anecdotal information is useful: sometime in the 80’s, Pakistan became a major supplier of surgical instruments.

      Pakistan has the whole fuel cycle, I guess it’s dependable enough for them, and they get to decide what they want, not China so much, and definitely not based on what the NSG might decide.

      As kind of a disclaimer, I argued for nuclear weapons security assistance cooperation from the US long before the Pressler amendment was imposed, because it was an inevitability that the Paks would get the bomb. My sense of politics was obviously lacking, since it needed waivers from the AEA and such. Similarly, I agreed with GE when they became worried about liability at Tarapur, particularly after TMI. My suggestion was a safety waiver of NNPA Sec. 109. Shot down on that one with malice aforethought. What will we do when Pakistan wants post-Fukushima safety upgrades to the existing Chashma reactors? Does that rise to NSG concern?

      Sorry to be such a pain. The Carnegie paper is really good, and I suspect is doing what you want, namely raising visibility and the quality of the debate. I agree intellectually with Daryl Kimball, and would do anything I could to achieve his desired result. But these kinds of efforts, as so often in the past, to make the nonproliferation regime what we want it to be, just don’t have the votes.

    • Alex (History)

      Sometimes anecdotal information is useful: sometime in the 80′s, Pakistan became a major supplier of surgical instruments.

      Working very high grade steel?

  17. Sukhjinder (History)

    I think the recently passed ENR restrictions by NSG will undo some part of the Nuclear cooperation ( waiver India received ), I think if arms control is persistent it can undo all the waiver commitments and hence bring India back to where it was before 2008.

  18. Sukhjinder (History)

    given that ENR tech has been restricted to india, could it be also possible to restrict the sale of uranium and other related nuclear technologies to india ?

    • Daryl Kimball (History)

      Sukhjinder: I think the short answer to your question is “no.” The new NSG ENR restriction states without full-scope safeguards makes sense if you consider the fact that no IAEA safeguards can prevent a nuclear armed state without comprhensive safeguards and a real AP from using the ENR in its weapons program.

  19. Sukhjinder (History)

    well india is never going to accept full scope safeguards, that’s was why they signed the nuclear deal back in 2008.

    I wonder how the nuclear reactor contract which India has signed with france and russia are going to be impacted with new ENR restriction on india.

  20. mark (History)


    Pakistan doesn’t have a shot at modern designs because 1.) it’s under NSG embargo and 2.) the modern designs in China’s portfolio are all subject to IPR restrictions from its foreign trading partners.

    Why would anyone try to alter the existing Pak-Sino reactor deal? If they were going to get better reactors on terms that meet Pakistan’s quest for diplomatic status parity with India, they might.

    I don’t see continued Pak-China collaboration as a show-stopper. We tried to frame it in a way that was neutral on continued Pak-China civil nuclear cooperation but would give both sides advantages if they don’t do it the way they are now poised to do it–in violation of NSG guidelines.


    What would the NSG possibly gain? Terms of trade permitting Chinese commerce with its ally which result in a major increase in nonproliferation, safety, and security related to that commerce, plus–if the criteria established are generalized for membership–additional commitments by India to remedy the nonprolferation deficits in the 2008 exemption decision. Plus a China more integrated into the nuclear trade regime. Without any changes in the terms of trade, China and Pakistan will simply go ahead and perhaps even indefinitely conduct nuclear business on terms which defy and compromise the NSG.

    To clarify, I said the world has moved beyond the NPT “in some ways” and I would call the 2008 decision by virtually all the NPT’s nuclear power-generating states (the great majority of them non-nuclear weapons states) to, as you say, give India “a free pass” one of those ways.

    The Carnegie document you say you endorse dates from 2007. It also, according to George (since this was done before I got there) specifically calls for a process to go toward a trade accomodation with non-NPT members on the basis of criteria. Well, we proposed some criteria. They’re suggestive, there could be more criteria, or there could be other criteria than the ones we listed in the paper.

    The NSG in 2008 gave India an exception for a bunch of reasons. Two of them certainly were:

    – India is too big and powerful and important to exclude from the global nuclear trade regime.

    – the NPT’s nuclear power generators and a lot of its advanced economies concluded that the overall benefit of giving India access to modern nuclear power generating technology would result in benefits (economic development, nuclear safety, reduced carbon emissions) that will in the long term be greater than the losses which would accrue from holding the line drawn in 1968 about what is a nuclear weapons state.

    We don’t have to agree with that, but that’s what they did.

    In the wake of what happened in 2008, there is now China and Pakistan, as we outlined in our paper.

    So far I see just three other possible solutions out there for dealing with this that are under consideration by the NSG:

    1.) tell China that it’s okay for them to ignore the guidelines, provided China give us a side benefit. If they do that, we’ll let them grandfather it (regarless of USG and others spelling out that China in 2004 did not include the reactor sales as grandfathered under its prior trade agreement with Pakistan)

    2.) don’t ask/don’t tell

    3.) resolve that China has to seek a formal exemption from the guidelines for its trade with Pakistan

    So far, it looks like number 2 will most likely result.

    The U.S. at one point last summer announced 3.), toyed with 1.), and maybe will in the end settle with the other NSG participating governments on 2.)

    There’s a fourth proposition, which has to my knowledge not been seriously entertained for both formal reasons (the guidelines are voluntary) and political reasons (risk): kick China out of the NSG.

    Then there is our proposal. This would move the process to a higher level and try to rebalance the regime on the basis of criteria for trade. I agree it is a long shot, given the short attention spans of most NSG participating governments and the trials and tribulations of multilateral diplomacy in that body (thinking about how long it took to get new ENR guidelines…) What we propose is also politically uncorrect to those who, in our view, really are focused on what’s behind us. As Arch said, we want to raise the quality and visibility of the debate on this issue, and as David Santoro has rejoined in another forum, outside-the-box thinking about this highly ideologized matter surely can’t hurt. But it is clear that doing what we suggest would require a considerable commitment from a lot of people who in the end might not agree. Interestingly, some nonproliferation lions have told us they object not because we challenge the universal aspirations of the NPT but because our list of suggested conditions and criteria doesn’t go far enough and that other criteria/conditions could have been added. We think we have enough on the list for now… but the list as I said above could be added to.

    • Sukhjinder (History)

      criteria based admission would be a non starter. it just won’t happen. if a criteria could be evolved to admit a proliferator into NSG, then definitely iran and other’s who have violated and proliferated would also need to be admitted. as I have said it won’t stop at pakistan. you will have to include syria at some point and all those who have benefited from china/pakistan proliferation. this criteria would have to me modified to pretty much include everybody in the end. even those who signed NPT and then refuse to abide by it later on. Also the whole NPT would unravel at a very fast pace.

  21. Arch (History)


    Lots to digest, however, what I was talking about in pertinent part to your original post is:

    1) China can do what it wants vis-a-vis grandfathering 3 & 4; if they hadn’t already figured this out before they floated the idea, the ambassador’s in trouble;

    2) IPR restrictions are an interesting concept to China, and the NSG, last of all, will change things; so

    3) Don’t ask/Don’t tell is probably the way out.

    Looking forward, here is what I think:

    1) The locus of these discussions should be the IAEA, not the NSG: we’re already paying a lot, and have paid a lot, to make the IAEA the arbiter of international standards. The timing is right to do this after Fukushima. So we all want the rules of the NSG as a goal: there are way too many dedicated bureaucrats trying to decide things in the NSG, and they frankly are wasting everybody’s time wrangling for solutions that will wind up in the Agency anyway. The NSG is not even a paper tiger after the India exception;

    2) What the hell do we need the Zangger Committee for, if it still exists?

    3) Not to deny what the NSG has done, nor its goals at present, but why do we need an organization that by its very work reinforces the distinction between the nuclear haves and the nuclear have-nots?;

    4) The issue of access to technology, so starkly reminded to us by Iran (and the NAM) at every turn, requires what? A summit? Where would a likely place be to discuss this issue (and probably fail to agree, but that’s another story)? If people understand and support the Agency, they will understand there is no other place; so

    5) Technology suppliers can operate as they want once the issues are transferred to the IAEA, but big plenaries of the NSG and the Zangger Committee really screw up the concept that Article IV means anything at all. Nobody is convinced. Not that the work is not worth the effort to date in order to establish international standards. Better to incorporate themselves into the IAEA orbit; we need international standards, and are better off if more people agree;

    6) My mentor, who spoke mostly mangled English, but he said this great thing: “Include ’em in, don’t include ’em out!!!”.

    • Arch (History)

      para 5 in previous post is prima facie evidence of a senior moment, also a persistent inability to multitask.

  22. MZ (History)

    India will never give up its nuclear option. It is a wishful thinking. They do not have any other defense against China. Any proposals based on this are bound to fail. Nuclear community should learn what defense means for a nation and put forward proposals which are practical.