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سوموار، 20 ستمبر، 2010

China to build a 1-gigawatt atomic power plant in Pakistan

China's main nuclear energy corporation is in talks to build a 1-gigawatt atomic power plant in Pakistan, an executive said on Monday, a move that could intensify international unease about their nuclear embrace.
China has already helped Pakistan build its main nuclear power facility at Chashma in Punjab province, where one reactor is running and another near finished, and it has contracts to build two more there, despite the qualms of other governments.
Qiu Jiangang, vice president of the China National Nuclear Corp (CNNC), told a meeting in Beijing that the company was already looking beyond those deals to an even bigger plant.
"After the successful, safe operation of the first 300- megawatt reactor in Chashma...the second reactor is now under testing and is expected to start formal operations by the end of this year," Qiu said
"Both sides are in discussions over the CNNC exporting a one-gigawatt nuclear plant to Pakistan," he added.
Qiu confirmed the two countries have already signed contracts to build the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors of about 300 megawatts each at Chashma.
He did not give details about who was involved in discussions for the bigger plant and how far the talks had progressed.
The proposed expansion of China's nuclear power ties with Pakistan is likely to magnify unease in Washington, Delhi and other capitals worried about Pakistan's role regional security and nuclear proliferation.
Pakistan is a long-standing partner of China, and has been suffering chronic power shortages.
Beijing is wary of Indian regional dominance and U.S. influence. In 2008 Washington signed a nuclear energy deal with India that China and other countries questioned but ultimately let through.
Critics of that U.S.-India deal say it prompted China to deepen its own nuclear power cooperation with Pakistan, which has been beset by political instability and militant attacks.
Rivals India and Pakistan both possess nuclear arsenals and refuse to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which would oblige them to scrap those arsenals.
China says safeguards in place at Chashma ensure its role is entirely peaceful.
Critics say Pakistan's domestic instability and its past role spreading nuclear arms technology demand that China's nuclear plans there at least come under stricter international scrutiny through the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
The Chashma complex is China's first nuclear energy plant project abroad, and CNNC recently cast it as a launching pad for expanding into the global market.
"We must rely on the Pakistan Chashma nuclear power project to improve our ability to contract for nuclear power projects abroad, and to open up the foreign market for nuclear energy," the company said in an essay recently published in Seeking Truth, a magazine issued by China's ruling Communist Party.
"GOING OUT" STRATEGY
Chinese nuclear industry executives said at Monday's seminar that the rapidly expanding nuclear power sector abroad offered abundant opportunities.
At the Lingao reactor that began full operations last week in southern Guangdong province, China prides itself in building the facility in a record-breaking period of 57 months, with two thirds of the main equipment from local sources. (For a factbox in China's nuclear power plants and plans see [ID:nTOE68F079])
"All these experiences have laid the foundation for the nuclear sector to go overseas," said He Yu, chairman of the Guangdong Nuclear Power Corp, another major Chinese nuclear builder.
China is soon set to overtake the United States as the world's No.1 energy user, and is on a fast-track to boost its nuclear power capacity in the next decade, with about 28 reactors currently under construction, roughly 40 percent of the world's total under construction.

(Reuters)

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