PAK-CHINA CIVIL NUKE TIES
THEY AGREE TO REGARD THE INTERNATIONAL OBLIGATIONS.
SHABBIR H. KAZMI
Jan 17 - 23, 2011
Energy shortage has become the biggest constraint in Pakistan's economic development. Since 1976, it has not been able to construct any mega size dam. Rising oil prices have turned fossil oil based power plants too big a burden. The country can't go for wind and solar generation being too expensive. Nuclear power generation offers a solution but acquiring the technology has become the biggest problem.
The US calls Pakistan frontline ally in war on terror, and is also fully cognizant of Pakistan's energy crisis. It has rewarded India for deserting Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project by entering into civilian nuclear technology agreement with her. However, it is not ready to enter into a similar agreement with Pakistan, which is tantamount to discrimination and clearly shows that it gives preference to India over Pakistan. In such a scenario, Pakistan has no option but to strive hard to convince every country to help it. Some of the countries did promise to provide the technology but withdrew the offer under the US pressure.
Karachi Nuclear Power Plant (KANUPP) is Pakistan's first nuclear power plant and also the first nuclear power plant in the Muslim world. It is a single unit with a total gross capacity of 137MW. It is located at Paradise Point on the Arabian Sea coast, about 15 miles to the west of Karachi. Prime minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, inaugurated the first unit of the Karachi Nuclear Plant on November 28, 1972. KANUPP has a heavy water moderated and cooled natural uranium fuelled, horizontal pressure tube reactor. Other distinguishing features are once-through, on-power bidirectional fuelling, reactor shutdown by moderator dump, and a reactor building designed for total containment of any pressure or activity resulting from a credible accident.
The nuclear reactor building contains the entire reactor system and auxiliaries, and consists of a pre-stressed concrete cylindrical wall, a hemispherical segmental dome of pre-stressed concrete, and a concrete base slab. The turbine building houses the turbine-generator and auxiliaries, some process water equipment, electrical distribution equipment, and the control room. The building is a reinforced concrete frame and block structure.
In 1977, France, under US pressure, cancelled a contract for the supply of a plant to Pakistan for the extraction of plutonium from the spent fuel of KANUPP. The State Department's contention was that it had no evidence of Pakistan acquiring this capability from elsewhere, but the Washington Post reported that Pakistan already had this facility at the Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology (PINSTECH), Nilore, and was taking steps to upgrade it to reprocess the entire quantity of spent fuel from Khushab and extract plutonium.
The Chashma Nuclear Power Complex consists of Chashma Nuclear Power Plant I (CHASNUPP-1) and Chashma Nuclear Power Plant II (CHASNUPP-2). Pakistan also plans to build CHASNUPP-3 and CHASNUPP-4. Chashma Nuclear Power Plant's reactors and other facilities are being built and operated by the Pakistani with Chinese support.
In November 2006, International Atomic Energy Agency approved an agreement with the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission for new nuclear power plants to be built in the country with Chinese assistance.
The 35-member board of governors of the IAEA unanimously approved the safeguard agreement for any future nuclear power plants that Pakistan will be constructing. CHASNUPP-1 is a single reactor unit. The unit is of 300 MW capacity and includes a two-loop pressurized water reactor nuclear steam supply system (NSSS) furnished by China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC). The nuclear island and conventional island of the plant utilizes proven design, similar to that of Qinshan nuclear power plant in China. Systems and major equipment of the nuclear island, including the NSSS, are designed by Shanghai Nuclear Engineering Research and Design Institute (SNERDI).
The systems in the conventional island are designed by East China Electric Power Design Institute (ECEPDI). Construction started in 1993 and the plant came into operation in 2000. Since then, there have been five fuel changes. Chashma Nuclear Power Plant II has been constructed at Kundian and forms part of the Chashma Nuclear Power Complex in the northwestern region of the Thal Doab. The site is located south of Mianwali, near the Chashma Barrage and on the left bank of the Indus River.
According to reports, the US has made various attempts to derail a Pakistani-Chinese arrangement on producing civilian nuclear energy. The United States expects Beijing to cooperate with Pakistan in ways consistent with Chinese non-proliferation obligations. The US does not like Chinese cooperation with Pakistan beyond those specific projects that were agreed in 2004, but would require consensus approval by the NSG (the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group).
The US experts allege that the Pakistani-Chinese agreement violates international guidelines forbidding nuclear exports to countries that haven't signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty or don't have international safeguards on reactors.
Pakistan has made it very clear that its civil nuclear cooperation with China is under the safeguards of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). China had also issued statement in this regard that the cooperation between Pakistan and China in the area of civilian use of nuclear energy is "totally for peaceful purpose". China's stand on these questions is that this deal is the continuation of the agreements of 1980s, when china neither joins NPT nor NSG and this export is linked with the 2003 export of nuclear reactor to Pakistan. So, the obligations NSG cannot apply on this deal. China did not need to get waiver of NSG.
The US stance is not only discriminatory, but can be termed an attempt to weaken Pakistan economically. The country needs uninterrupted supply of electricity at affordable cost. If Pakistan's nuclear power plants have an unblemished track record, why there is an opposition against constructions of more plants?