India to 'expose' China-Pakistan nuclear deal

NEW DELHI: India will oppose allattempts by China to ‘grandfather’ two more nuclear reactors to itspre-2004 deal for civil nuclear cooperation with Pakistan. According to seniorgovernment officials, India may not be a member of the NSG, which is meeting inNew Zealand next week, but it will diplomatically oppose such a move as it is aChinese “afterthought and a knee-jerk reaction” to India’snuclear deal with the US in 2008.

The China-Pakistan nuclearrendezvous is not officially on the NSG agenda, but Beijing is likely to make astatement on its decision to supply two more nuclear reactors to Islamabadduring the session. While the US has expressed its reluctance to back such adeal between China and Pakistan, and it is highly unlikely that Pakistan will beable to get an India-like exemption, Indian officials believe there is anoutside chance of NSG countries coming together to let Beijing grandfather itslatest deal to the nuclear pact with Pakistan before 2004, when China was not amember of NSG.

For India, as an official put it, it is important tocall this bluff. “As far as we know, the pre-2004 pact accounted only forthe 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 noquestion of drawing any parallel between India and Pakistan over the issuebecause of India’s immaculate non-proliferation record.

A USstate department spokesperson had said on Thursday that the deal for two morereactors appeared to “extend beyond co-operation that was grandfatheredwhen China was approved for membership in the Nuclear SuppliersGroup”.

“The important thing is to emphasize that anyattempt to include the deal for fresh reactors into the earlier pact will haveno credibility and so it should be avoided,” said theofficial.

In case China does inform NSG about its plan, it will alsohave 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 NSGnations over the matter.

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

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