China Constructs Nuclear Reactor in Pakistan

September 2023

China is constructing a new 1,200-megawatt nuclear reactor for Pakistan in a bilateral deal estimated at $3.5-4.8 billion, according to various news reports. It is Pakistan’s fifth and largest civilian nuclear power project.

Senior Pakistani and Chinese officials attended the televised groundbreaking event at Chasma on July 14. The reactor, Chasma-5, features a third-generation Chinese design known as the Hualong One. China previously supplied Pakistan with four other reactors as part of a long-standing nuclear energy relationship that continues to raise serious concerns about Beijing’s commitment to its nonproliferation obligations.

Since 2004, China has been part of the 48-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), which aims to prevent commercial nuclear exports from being used to make nuclear weapons and voluntarily coordinates exports to non-nuclear-weapon states. India, Israel, and Pakistan are not NPT signatories and possess nuclear weapons.

China has engaged in civil nuclear cooperation with Pakistan since 1987, five years before China joined the NPT as a nuclear-weapon state. Beijing has long claimed that its nuclear exports to Islamabad are “grandfathered” under NSG guidelines. (See ACT, April 2011.)—JUPITER KAISHU HUANG