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Experts, Organizations from 14 Countries Call on Nuclear Suppliers Group to Uphold Rules Barring Chinese Sale of Reactors to Pakistan

For Immediate Release: June 17, 2010

Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, Arms Control Association 1-202-463-8270 x107; Philip White, Citizens' Nuclear Information Center, Tokyo 81-3-3357-3800

(Washington, D.C.-Tokyo, Japan-Christchurch, NZ): In a letter sent this week to the 46-member states of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), a prestigious and broad array of more than 40 experts and nongovernmental organizations from 14 countries urged that these nations "reiterate to the Chinese government that it must not engage in nuclear trade with Pakistan in a way that violates nonproliferation obligations and norms."

In recent weeks, credible reports have surfaced that the Government of China is planning to sell two additional nuclear power reactors to Pakistan, which would be inconsistent with NSG guidelines and China's commitments to the NSG.

The group argues that nuclear trade with Pakistan would not only give a state outside the nonproliferation mainstream the rights and privileges reserved for states that follow nonproliferation rules, but it would contribute to the arms race in South Asia.

The Nuclear Suppliers Group will convene on June 21-25 in Christchurch, New Zealand. The possible China-Pakistan nuclear reactor deal is expected to be a topic of discussion at the meeting.

Under the guidelines of the NSG, countries other than the five formally-recognized nuclear-weapon states-China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States-are not eligible to receive most nuclear exports from NSG members unless they have International Atomic Energy full-scope safeguards in place. Pakistan is one of only three states never to have signed the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). Pakistan does not allow full-scope international safeguards and it continues to produce fissile material for its nuclear weapons program.

When China joined the NSG in 2004, it had already built a power reactor at Pakistan's Chashma site. China claimed at the time that it was entitled to build a second reactor on the grounds that it was covered in the existing agreement with Pakistan. There was no declaration at that time of any intention to build additional nuclear power plants at Chashma.

If China goes forward with the sale, it would be the second major breach of NSG standards in as many years. In September 2008, the NSG agreed on an exemption for nuclear transfers to India over the protestations of the governments of New Zealand, Ireland, Austria, and others. The exemption, which was initiated by the United States and strongly backed by France, Russia and the U.K., blew a hole in the NSG's long-standing policy against nuclear trade with non-NPT parties.

States at the recently concluded NPT Review Conference, including China, also reaffirmed that "new supply arrangements" for nuclear transfers should require that the recipient accept "IAEA full-scope safeguards and international legally-binding commitments not to acquire nuclear weapons."

In their letter, the experts and NGOs note that "The provision of uranium and/or nuclear fuel to Pakistan or India for safeguarded reactors can have the effect of increasing their respective capacity to produce enriched uranium or plutonium for weapons purposes in unsafeguarded facilities."

At the May 2010 Review Conference, NPT states parties also expressed concern about the negative effects of civil nuclear trade with these countries. The NPT conference final document "... urges all States parties to ensure that their nuclear-related exports do not directly or indirectly assist the development of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devises."

Among the former government officials and experts endorsing the letter is Amb. Jayantha Dhanapala, the former UN Undersecretary General for Disarmament Affairs and President of the 1995 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review and Extension Conference. Other notable signatories include Henry Sokolski, former Deputy for Nonproliferation Policy in the U.S. Department of Defense, and Fred McGoldrick, the former U.S. official responsible for civilian nuclear trade negotiations.

NGOs and experts from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, India, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States, and elsewhere endorsed the letter, which was organized by the Washington-based Arms Control Association.

The letter urges NSG governments "to oppose nuclear trade with Pakistan and to refrain from engaging in nuclear trade with India until such time as it complies with UN Security Council Resolution 1172," which calls upon India and Pakistan to stop producing fissile material for weapons, to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and undertake other nuclear risk reduction measures.

The U.S. government "has reiterated to the Chinese government that the United States expects Beijing to cooperate with Pakistan in ways consistent with Chinese nonproliferation obligations," according to a news report published June 1 in the journal Arms Control Today.

Washington is also reportedly pressuring the Japanese government to change its policy against nuclear trade with India in to open the way for the sale of nuclear reactors built by GE-Hitachi and Westinghouse Electric, which a subsidiary of Japan's Toshiba.

For the full list of endorsers and the text of the letter, see: