Nuclear prospects of South Asia By Dr Rajkumar Singh

In the last decade and thereafter Pakistan’s nuclear programme has received a further boost since Jul y 2005 when the US and Indian governments unveiled their nuclear cooperation agreement. A basic feature of this agreement is that by acquiring uranium from foreign sources and by placing a set of nuclear facilities on the military list India can increase its fissile material production for weaponisation purposes. This perspective also views that rather than increasing nuclear warhead production, New Delhi would use the expansion of its uranium supplies and enrichment capability to fuel its nuclear submarine project, a key element of India’s desire to achieve a secure second strike capability under its credible minimum deterrence doctrine. In line, there are two separate perspectives of criticism; the first focusses on the non-proliferation objective, and the second on India’s strategic needs. It was largely felt that the agreement will weaken the global non-proliferation regime by condoning India’s nuclear weapons programme. A further objection is that even with fourteen reactors under safeguards, eight others will remain on the military list, free to manufacture plutonium for several nuclear weapons annually. India has since designated some of its reactors as civilian, and open to inspection, but others still churn out spent fuel richly laden with weapons-usable plutonium. India can potentially make even more of the stuff. Now, that it can import uranium fuel for its civilian reactors, it can devote more of its scarce domestic supplies to bomb-making. In the whole issue, the US argued simply that India had a spotless non-proliferation record and that bringing it into the non-proliferation “mainstream” could only bolster global anti- proliferation efforts. Even in Barack Obama’s administration Pakistan hoped that it would eventually get a deal like India. Some in the Obama administration have also supported this on the ground that America needs Pakistan’s support in the fight against al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
Some Pakistani Commentators, in fact felt, and argued that their country needs nuclear cooperation with the United States more than India because the gap between existing energy supplies and future energy requirement is far more serious for Pakistan than it is for India
Closer than earlier and having been rebuffed by the United States in its attempts to secure a nuclear energy deal for Pakistan similar to the Indo-US one. Islamabad has been actively seeking Beijing’s assistance instead. The issue of nuclear energy was raised in 2006 during Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf’s visit to China and Chinese President Hu Jinato’s return visit to Islamabad. On both occasions, Beijing reassured its “all weather always” on all strategic matters including energy cooperation, Pakistan reportedly asked for assistance with the building of a number of reactors. Even for China the deal was not considered good and the main Chinese Communist Party newspaper, The People’s Daily accused the deal of “double standards” and added that it was likely to damage the existing non-proliferation system. To China, the 123- Agreement has from its inception, represented a potent strategic alliance between the United States and India aimed at counter- balancing China’s rise in the region. The daily newspaper also accused of “hegemonic ideas” and being unconcerned about “others’ opinion”. It went on to assert that the US clearly intended to draw “India in a tool for its global strategic pattern”. Although indirectly, the paper described India as “wanting to seize the opportunity to rise as big power,” out of “practical political considerations”. In fact, both India and the United States are concerned about the future direction of Chinese foreign policy and security policy. For the United States, aiding India through nuclear cooperation as well as a strategic partnership, Washington would be able to balance China more effectively in the region. In the process, it would divert China from its main security issue Taiwan. For India, the agreement is a significant diplomatic and strategic addition to its capabilities vis-a-vis China, with both the possible increase in fissile material production and a strengthened strategic partnership with the United States.
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In past, China has built up Pakistan as a counter to India for several decades, a policy that involved transfers of nuclear and missile technology. Even before the announcement of Indo- US civil nuclear deal in July 2005, there were reports in March-2004 that China was planning to provide Islamabad with a nuclear reactor. The implication is that the Beijing-Islamabad nuclear partnership might have continued in any case. But the current pattern of nuclear cooperation between China and Pakistan is used by Beijing to lay the grounds for legitimising continued nuclear collaboration with Pakistan. Further in December 2005, China began construction of the 300-MW second phase of the Chasma Nuclear Power Plant, contracted in May 2004, subsequent to the commissioning of the first phase in September 2000, parallel to the Indo-US deal, China and Pakistan also reportedly agreed to a nuclear cooperation arrangement under which as many as six nuclear reactors of at least 600 MW capacity would be provided to Islamabad. Although the Vienna-based Nuclear Supplier Group has opposed the supply of nuclear power plants to Pakistan by its member China, the latter has maintained that its agreement with Pakistan for cooperation in civil nuclear technology was signed in the 1980s before China joined the NSG. Some Pakistani Commentators, in fact felt, and argued that their country needs nuclear cooperation with the United States more than India because the gap between existing energy supplies and future energy requirement is far more serious for Pakistan than it is for India. A senior Pakistani official reminded the US its nuclear policy statement of October 2006 that Washington’s nuclear policy should be guided by criteria-based “approach rather than one geared toward a single country”.However, US government officials have stated that they have no intention of considering a similar agreement with Pakistan.
After signing the Indo-US civil nuclear deal finally in October 2008, once again, Pakistan’s nuclear energy programme revitalised, and in quest, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari paid a visit to Beijing in July 2010. Among other things, Zardari urged the Chinese leadership to continue supply of civilian nuclear technology to Pakistan, despite growing international concern over China’s nuclear engagement with the country. In his meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jaibao, Zardari said that his country needed Chinese assistance in developing “an energy mix” which included nuclear power reactors, as well as hydro-power, wind and solar energy.
Pakistan, as a further step, to have nuclear parity with India and enhance its influence in the region, in July 2013 approved funds to purchase two new nuclear power reactors from China. The 1100 MWe ACP 1000 units were together priced at 959 billion ($9.6 billion). They will be supplied by China National Nuclear Corp and built at the coastal Karachi site near Paradise Point in Sindh province about 25 kilometres west of the capital. At present Pakistan has a 40-year old 125 MWe pressurised heavy water reactor at Karachi and another nuclear power plant at Chasma in northern Punjab province. This has two 300 MWe Chinese-built reactor operating with two more under construction. Before supplying this in April 2013 the Chinese authorities said they had full intellectual property rights over the design. It had completed the phase of research and design review and would move their focus to construction and market development. Internally too the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission has received the green light to start work on a second nuclear power plant in Karachi with Chinese assistance . While reports have be e n cropping up in the international media about KANUPP-2, which is expected to cost$9.6 billion and produce around 1000-MW. It is the first time that government documents and officials have revealed Chinese involvement in the project. It is also to note here that the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission has chalked out a plan to install 8,000 MW of nuclear energy by 2025 from the present capacity of approximately 700-MW supplied by the plants in Karachi and Chasma

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