With US and other members of the Nuclear Supplies Group appearing unlikely to block China’s attempt to reward Pakistan with nuclear reactors, India has decided to work on its own to organize resistance to the Beijing-Islamabad deal.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will use a bilateral meeting with Canadian PM Stephen Harper this weekend to convey “concerns” about China’s proposal to build new nuclear reactors for its all-weather friend. Singh will be in Toronto for the G-20 summit, as well as to sign a civil nuclear agreement with Canada. Canada is the world’s largest supplier of uranium, which India is in dire need of.
China’s plans to build two nuclear reactors came to light when state-owned China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) announced in April this year that it will export nuclear power reactors to Pakistan in a USD 2.375-billion agreement. This is in addition to two nuclear reactors built by China at Chashma in Pakistan’s Punjab province.
Zhai Dequan, deputy secretary-general of the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, defended China’s plans to build new reactors saying that China has been helping Pakistan with reactors earlier. “This is not the first time China has helped Pakistan build nuclear reactors, and since it will be watched by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the deal is not going to have any problems,” Zhai said, adding the US will not pressure China too much as it previously struck a deal with India.
The US last week asked China to clarify the details of the deal, but stopped short of publicly opposing it. Pakistan has stressed many times it wants the same recognition as India on civil nuclear usage. Pakistan has an urgent need for more civil energy.
Terrorism top on agenda in India Pakistan talks Thursday
Indian foreign secretary Nirupama Rao , the first senior Indian official to visit Pakistan since the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, and Pakistani foreign secretary Salman Bashir have been tasked by Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and Yousuf Raza Gilani to find ways to bridge the trust deficit and prepare the ground for a meeting of the Foreign Ministers on July 15.
Terrorism, particularly India’s concerns about Pakistan-based terror groups like the Lashker-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, will be among the issues that will be raised by Rao during her meeting with Bashir at the Foreign Office Thursday, diplomatic and official sources told PTI. Sources in Pakistan’s Foreign Office conceded that no major breakthrough is expected during talks but said officials were preparing for the long haul in parleys with India as both countries have a desire to usher in peace and stability in the region. The sources in the Foreign Office acknowledged that India would certainly raise the issue of groups like the LeT during the talks but said they believed this would not become a sticking point as Indian officials have recently said they are approaching the parleys in “an exploratory and not an accusatory manner”.
The Pakistani side is keen to revamp the existing Joint Anti-Terror Mechanism by upgrading it and this issue is likely to be raised during the talks, sources said.
Pakistan on Wednesday released 17 Indian prisoners as a “goodwill gesture” on the eve of high-profile talks with a top official from New Delhi.