China discusses nuclear with Belarus, Pakistan

31 March 2010

Officials have conducted talks on Chinese involvement in civil nuclear power projects in both Belarus and Pakistan, where Chashma 3 and 4 now look closer to reality.


Xi and Lukashanko, March 2010
Xi meets Lukashanko on 24 March
Earlier this month China's Vice President, Xi Jinping, met Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in Minsk. Belarus has been progressively preparing itself for the use of civil nuclear power over the last few years and Lukashenko took the opportunity to raise the possibility of nuclear cooperation with his Chinese visitor.


Belarus publicised a range of contracts worth some $3.4 billion, as well as a loan for $1 billion and aid from China worth $60 million. Official announcements said that Lukashenko had proposed to cooperate with China in nuclear power, including on the construction of a power plant although Chinese official sources did not confirm the conversation. Xi however recalled a 2005 bilateral between the nations that "symbolized a new phase of comprehensive development and strategic cooperation." Russia has real interest in the Belarusian project and its ambassador to the country quickly responded to the idea of Chinese involvement. While Russia would not object to Chinese finance, the involvement of Chinese companies and the possibility of technology transfer was not acceptable, according to quotes attributed to Alexander Surikov by the BELTA news agency.


According to Pakistani media, China has also moved forward with cooperation in that country, signing a new deal to construct two new pressurized water reactors at the Chasma plant. A detailed report in the Daily Times said China had agreed a low-interest loan to Pakistan for 82% of the $1.912 billion cost of two 320 MWe units. It added that the cabinet had approved Pakistan's share of the spending.


Chasma 1 was imported from China in the late 1990s with unit 2 following in the early 2000s and still under construction. In March 2009 Shanghai Nuclear Engineering Research and Design Institute announced that it was proceeding with the design of Chasma 3 and 4, with China Zhongyuan Engineering as the general contractor.


However, questions remain about China's supply of Chashma 3 and 4. Contracts for units 1 and 2 were signed in 1990 and 2000, before 2004 when China joined the Nuclear Suppliers Group, which maintains an embargo on sales of nuclear equipment to Pakistan as a country without full-scope safeguards on nuclear technology and materials.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News