Testing moments for the NSG!

Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guanglie shakes hand with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani prior to their meeting in Islamabad.

By Air Cdre Khalid Iqbal (R)

In keeping with its discriminatory policy of selective application of Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the United States has decided to object to a Sino-Pak civilian nuclear arrangement for setting up two atomic power plants in Pakistan. America is expected to make certain obstructive observations during the meeting of ‘Nuclear Suppliers Group’ (NSG). NSG is an international cartel of nuclear technology suppliers and was not created by an international treaty. Regulations of NSG are nonbinding. China joined the cartel voluntarily. It is interesting to recall that the NSG was created in 1975 to standardize nuclear trade rules as a reaction to India’s testing of a nuclear explosive device. The objective of creating the NSG was to prevent access of nuclear material and know-how to the countries which are non-signatories to the NPT.

Ironically the same NSG was pressurized by America, Russia and France to make country specific exemption to kick start US-India nuclear deal (Agreement 123) in 2008. IAEA also buckled under pressure to make country specific exception to enable India’s access to nuclear material and know how. India continues to be a non-signatory of NPT. Now the NSG is under the international focus because global nuclear trade regime is at its defining moments. Under duress the group exempted India from a long standing NSG requirement that non nuclear weapon states benefiting from nuclear trade must put all their nuclear activities under the safeguards and supervision of the IAEA, ensuring that they are for peaceful uses. In the aftermath of the US–India deal the NSG will have to perform a delicate balancing act to find the least unsatisfactory solution to China’s challenge. In the view of some NSG states, an agreement permitting China to regularise the exports under the 2004 nuclear cooperation agreement with Pakistan would be the least damaging outcome.

Nevertheless, in a typical twist of hypocrisy, an erratic perception is being generated that the Pak-China arrangement appears to be violating international guidelines forbidding nuclear exports to the countries that have not signed the NPT or do not have international safeguards on reactors. Contrasting it with Agreement 123 reveals that whereas Pak-China arrangement is purely for power generation under comprehensive IAEA safeguards, Agreement 123 exempts 8 nuclear reactors from IAEA safeguards allowing sufficient fissile material to make around 280 warheads per year. This is in addition to India’s ongoing programme of 13 fast breeder reactors. As such it is a misnomer to calls Agreement 123 as ‘US-India Civil Nuclear Deal’. It is indeed US-Indian collusion toward nuclear weapons proliferation programme.

As a follow on to Agreement 123, America and India have recently signed a nuclear fuel reprocessing agreement to further augment their dubious bilateral nuclear deal that would open the venues for India to recycle American spent nuclear fuel. This would facilitate participation by US firms in India’s rapidly expanding civil nuclear energy sector. As a part of ‘United States-India Nuclear Cooperation Approval and Non-proliferation Enhancement Act of 2008’, India is required to establish a ‘Civil Nuclear Liability Regime’ to limit compensation by American nuclear companies operating in India, in case of nuclear accidents. ‘The Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill 2010’ has attracted resistance from labour rights and human rights activist individuals and organizations. Scars of Bhopal accident are too fresh in the memory of Indian public to support this controversial legislation.

‘China National Nuclear Corporation’ is contemplating to set up two new power plants at Chashma, the sale is a leftover of an agreement that China had entered into, before its joining of the NSG in 2004. At that time China was completing work on two reactors for Pakistan. That agreement carried a provision of commissioning of two additional reactors. As Pak-China nuclear agreement is expected to come up before the NSG, the US has communicated to China that it expects Beijing to cooperate with Pakistan in ways consistent with Chinese nonproliferation obligations. Western and Indian media has gone into top gear to create a perception that this bilateral cooperation would breach international protocol about the trade of nuclear equipment and material. Read more of this post

Despite US Concerns China To Move Ahead On Pak Nuke Deal

China strongly defends Pakistan, likely to formally announce Pak-China Nuclear Deal in Nuclear Suppliers Group meet.

“We do not need an exemption from the NSG, as requested by the US, since the deal was reached before we (China) joined the group” Fan Jishe, a scholar of US studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences said. Jishe further added that the nature of the Sino-Pakistani deal is different from that of the US-India deal (ToI).

Beijing, June 23 (ANI): Despite the US voicing serious concerns over China’s offer to help Pakistan set up two nuclear reactors, Beijing is likely go ahead and finance the nuclear project.

Beijing is likely to formally announce its plans to build two 650 megawatts nuclear reactors in Punjab’s Chasma region during the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) meeting in New Zealand on June 24 (Thursday) amidst heavy lobbying from India against the project.

According to Chinese experts, one of the main concerns for the international community is that Bejing, like New Delhi, has not inked the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and technically it is not restricted to transfer nuclear technology to any other country. Read more of this post

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