US 'concerns' over Pak-China nuclear agreement
The United States has conveyed its "concerns" to Islamabad over China's sale of two civilian nuclear reactors to Pakistan, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told a press conference yesterday.
Washington has already sought clarification from Beijing on the deal to build two new 650-megawatt reactors in Pakistan's Punjab province, saying it must be approved by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
"We believe that the NSG, which has recently met to examine the sale that you are referring to, has posed a series of questions that should be answered because as part of any kind of transaction involving nuclear power, there are concerns by international community, Pakistan knows that," said Clinton.
"We have conveyed them (concerns), other members of the NSG conveyed them and we look forward to answers of those questions posed," she told reporters in the Pakistani capital.
The deal was revealed in the British press in April and comes after China in 2004 entered the NSG, a group of nuclear energy states that forbids exports to nations lacking strict International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards.
The United States in 2008 signed a landmark nuclear agreement with Pakistan's arch-rival India and some analysts believe that lay the ground for the deal with China.
Pakistan has pressed the United States for a nuclear deal similar to India's.
Clinton on Monday said "intensive discussion" had begun to explore a civil nuclear deal with Pakistan, but outlined issues to be addressed including rigorous controls over the export of nuclear information and material.
The father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb, Abdul Qadeer Khan, confessed in 2004 to sending nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea, although he later retracted his remarks.
"Export controls, and the problem with Mr AQ Khan raises a red flag for people around the world and not just in the US, because we can trace the export of nuclear information and material from Pakistan through all kinds of channels to many different countries. That is an issue," Clinton told a town hall meeting in Islamabad.
Clinton also criticised Pakistan for standing in the way of a proposed international treaty to prohibit the further production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other explosive devices.
"I just want you to understand that we are fulfilling our commitment to pursue this... but it is not a one-way street," she said.
"There has to be an awareness that certain questions that people have in their minds... must be addressed," Clinton added.