Nuclear Diplomacy and Disarmament

China-Pakistan Nuclear Deal: Implications for Global Nuclear Commerce


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NSG, Chashma Reactor

Mains level: Read the attached story

pakistan china nuclear

Central Idea

  • The recent agreement between China and Pakistan for a 1,200 MW nuclear power plant in Pakistan’s Chashma nuclear complex has significant implications.
  • This article examines the details of the deal, China’s involvement in Pakistan’s nuclear projects, the energy situation in Pakistan, and the broader implications for the global nuclear trade.

Chashma Nuclear Complex: The Latest Deal

  • Deal Signed: Pakistan signs agreement for a 1,200 MW nuclear power plant at the Chashma nuclear complex.
  • Financial Concessions: China provides “special concessions” for financing the construction amid Pakistan’s financial crisis and ongoing IMF bailout negotiations.
  • Largest Reactor: The new plant (C-5) will be the largest reactor at the Chashma complex and utilize China’s Hualong One reactor technology.

China’s Nuclear Projects in Pakistan

  • Existing Plants: China has constructed four phases of the Chashma nuclear complex, with four reactors of approximately 325 MW each.
  • Operational Plants: Pakistan currently operates six China-built nuclear plants, including four at Chashma and two at the Karachi Nuclear Power Plant (KANUPP).
  • Energy Solution: The KANUPP-3 reactor, powered by a Chinese Hualong One reactor, recently went fully online, providing relief to Pakistan’s energy crisis.
  • BRI and CPEC: The KANUPP-3 project is part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Pakistan’s Energy Situation

  • Energy Deficit: Pakistan faces a persistent energy deficit, financial crisis, and rising import bills.
  • Need for Renewables and Nuclear: The country urgently needs to increase the share of renewables and nuclear energy to reduce dependence on imported fuel.
  • Current Energy Mix: Thermal sources account for 61%, hydropower 24%, nuclear 12%, and wind and solar only 3% of Pakistan’s energy mix.
  • Capacity Increase: Pakistan aims to boost nuclear capacity, which has increased by 39% annually to reach 3,530 MW.

Broader Implications

  • NSG Prohibitions and Exemptions: China’s nuclear commerce with Pakistan raises concerns regarding the Nuclear Suppliers Group’s prohibition on technology transfer to non-NPT signatory countries. China argues that earlier deals with Pakistan exempt the Chashma 3 and Chashma 4 reactors from NSG restrictions.
  • Comparison with India-U.S. Nuclear Deal: Unlike the India-U.S. nuclear deal, China has not sought NSG waivers, and Pakistan has not made similar commitments, which raises questions about the fairness and consistency of global nuclear governance.
  • Erosion of Global Rules: The China-Pakistan nuclear deals contribute to the erosion of global rules governing nuclear commerce and highlight the need for a robust international framework to ensure non-proliferation and safety standards.
  • Future of the NSG: The actions of China and Pakistan challenge the relevance and effectiveness of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, which needs to address emerging complexities in the global nuclear trade.

Back2Basics: Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)


  • NSG is a multinational body consisting of 48 member countries.
  • Established in 1974, its primary objective is to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons and related technology.

Purpose of the NSG:

  • Non-Proliferation Focus: The NSG aims to contribute to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons through the implementation of guidelines for nuclear exports and nuclear-related exports.
  • Response to Nuclear Tests: The group was formed in response to India’s nuclear test in 1974 and seeks to prevent the misuse and spread of nuclear technology.

NSG Guidelines:

  • Export Criteria: The NSG sets guidelines for its member countries to regulate their nuclear trade activities.
  • NPT Requirement: Recipient countries must be parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), reinforcing the commitment to non-proliferation.
  • IAEA Safeguards: Full-scope International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards implementation is mandatory for countries receiving nuclear exports.

Prohibition and Control:

  • Non-NPT Countries: The NSG guidelines prohibit the transfer of nuclear technology and materials to countries that have not signed the NPT.
  • Peaceful Use: The restrictions aim to ensure that nuclear technology and materials are used solely for peaceful purposes, preventing their diversion for military use.
  • Export Control Collaboration: Member countries cooperate to maintain strict control over nuclear-related transfers, preventing proliferation risks.

Role in Non-Proliferation:

  • Global Non-Proliferation Efforts: The NSG strengthens international non-proliferation efforts through consensus-based decision-making and the establishment of robust export controls.
  • Nuclear Commerce Regulation: By regulating nuclear trade, the NSG promotes transparency, accountability, and adherence to high standards of nuclear non-proliferation.
  • Nuclear Safety and Security: The NSG collaborates with other international organizations and non-member countries to enhance nuclear safety and security worldwide.

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