China continues to sell nuclear reactors to Pakistan

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In a clear violation of international norms, China continues to sell nuclear reactors to Pakistan, a US think-tank has claimed. Washington-based Arms Control Association (ACA) said in its latest report: “China has taken significant steps over the past several years to strengthen its export controls. However, Beijing’s decision to continue selling nuclear reactors to Pakistan in contravention of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and its sales of missile technologies to countries of concern earns China a failing grade.” Given the serious question mark on Beijing’s track record on Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament, the ACA has given China a poor “F Grade” on nuclear weapons related export control. China is a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. At the IAEA General Conference in 2015, China said it carries out “stringent reviews” on its export controls and adjusts its trigger lists according to technical progress and in March 2016, Beijing said it started to implement the Nuclear Export Control List that was updated in January 2016. “Despite progress on its export controls China continues to supply Pakistan with nuclear power reactors, despite objections that the sale of the reactors did not receive a consensus exemption from the NSG,” the report said. “Pakistan, which is neither an NPT member nor under full- scope IAEA safeguards, is therefore ineligible to receive such assistance under NSG rules,” it argued. “China has argued that the reactor transfer was based on a contract negotiated with Pakistan in 2003, one year before Beijing joined the NSG, and grandfathered in when China joined the regime. However, the 2003 exemption was widely understood to apply solely to the two nuclear power reactors whose sale was completed before Chinas acceptance into the NSG in 2004,” the report said. In February 2013, China is reported to have signed a formal agreement to build the Chashma-3 reactor. In January 2014, there were reports that China and Pakistan were discussing three new reactors. At a February 2015 press conference in Beijing, a Chinese official confirmed that China “has assisted in building six nuclear reactors in Pakistan”. The report alleged that the 2013 deal on the Chasma-3 also contradicts the consensus document of the 2010 NPT Review Conference, which “reaffirms that new supply arrangements” for the transfer of nuclear materials and technology should require that the recipient accept “IAEA full-scope safeguards and international legally-binding commitments not to acquire nuclear weapons.” China applied to join the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) in 2004, but its membership was blocked. Prior to the MTCR application, China committed in 2000 not to assist, “in any way, any country, in the development” of nuclear-capable ballistic missiles.

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