India to ‘expose’ China-Pakistan nuclear deal

NEW DELHI: India will oppose all
attempts by China to ‘grandfather’ two more nuclear reactors to its
pre-2004 deal for civil nuclear cooperation with Pakistan. According to senior
government officials, India may not be a member of the NSG, which is meeting in
New Zealand next week, but it will diplomatically oppose such a move as it is a
Chinese “afterthought and a knee-jerk reaction” to India’s
nuclear deal with the US in 2008.

The China-Pakistan nuclear
rendezvous is not officially on the NSG agenda, but Beijing is likely to make a
statement on its decision to supply two more nuclear reactors to Islamabad
during the session. While the US has expressed its reluctance to back such a
deal between China and Pakistan, and it is highly unlikely that Pakistan will be
able to get an India-like exemption, Indian officials believe there is an
outside chance of NSG countries coming together to let Beijing grandfather its
latest deal to the nuclear pact with Pakistan before 2004, when China was not a
member of NSG.

For India, as an official put it, it is important to
call this bluff. “As far as we know, the pre-2004 pact accounted only for
the Chasmah 2 reactor and maybe some other research reactors. For several years,
there was no mention of any further nuclear reactor to Pakistan by the Chinese.
It’s only now, after India secured a clean waiver for nuclear commerce,
that this entirely new deal has come up,” he said, adding that there is no
question of drawing any parallel between India and Pakistan over the issue
because of India’s immaculate non-proliferation record.

state department spokesperson had said on Thursday that the deal for two more
reactors appeared to “extend beyond co-operation that was grandfathered
when China was approved for membership in the Nuclear Suppliers

“The important thing is to emphasize that any
attempt to include the deal for fresh reactors into the earlier pact will have
no credibility and so it should be avoided,” said the

In case China does inform NSG about its plan, it will also
have the option of seeking an exemption just like the US did for India. However,
it’s not clear at this stage if there is any unanimity among the 46 NSG
nations over the matter.

“We have to wait and see what
happens. In case an exemption is sought, an economic powerhouse like China can
influence many nations into backing it. However, there can’t be an easy
way out of this by allowing Beijing to grandfather the deal,” said the
official. Asked about the likely turn of events in the NSG meet, New Zealand
disarmament minister Geoggina te Heuheu said on Friday that it would be
“premature” to talk about it.

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