China commits $6.5b for Pakistani nuclear project
Project to have
two reactors with a capacity of 1,100 megawatts each I Construction to be completed by 2019
ISLAMABAD - China has committed $6.5 billion to finance the construction
of a major nuclear power project in Karachi as it seeks to strengthen ties with its strategic partner, Pakistani officials
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif broke ground on the $9.59 billion project last month but officials have provided few
details of how they plan to finance it.
Financing documents seen by Reuters showed China National Nuclear Cooperation (CNNC)
has promised to grant a loan of at least $6.5 billion to finance the project which will have two reactors with a capacity
of 1,100 megawatts each.
Two members of the government’s energy team and three sources close to the deal confirmed
this. CNNC was not available for comment.
“China has complete confidence in Pakistan’s capacity to run a nuclear
power plant with all checks in place,” said Ansar Parvez, chairman of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission which runs
the civilian nuclear programme.
“As things stand, the performance and capacity of nuclear power plants in Pakistan
is far better compared to non-nuclear plants.”
Parvez declined to give more details of the funding but said it would
be completed by 2019 and each of the two reactors would be larger than the combined power of all nuclear reactors now operating
As part of the deal, China has also waived a $250,000 insurance premium on the loan, said two sources in the
Energy Ministry with knowledge of the project. They declined to be identified as they are not authorised to speak to the media
about the financing.
Pakistan and China, both nuclear-armed nations, consider each other close friends and their ties have
been underpinned by common wariness of India and a desire to hedge against US influence in South Asia.
Pakistan sees nuclear
energy as key to its efforts to solve power shortages that have crippled its economy. Pakistan generates about 11,000 MW of
power while total demand is about 15,000 MW.
Blackouts lasting more than half a day in some areas have infuriated many
Pakistanis and sparked violent protests, undermining an economy already beset by high unemployment, widespread poverty, crime
and sectarian and insurgent violence.
Under its long-term energy plan, Pakistan hopes to produce more than 40,000 MW of
electricity through nuclear plants by 2050.
The United States sealed a nuclear supply deal with India in 2008, irking both
China and Pakistan.
Pakistan wants a similar agreement with the United States but it is reluctant.
be no double standards in terms of civilian nuclear deals,” Parvez said. “Pakistan has energy needs and the building
of two new reactors should convince everyone that international embargos and restrictions and Indian lobbying won’t
Pakistan carried out its first nuclear tests in 1998, soon after India conducted tests. Both refuse to
join the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, which would oblige them to scrap atomic weapons.
China has already helped supply
two nuclear reactors at the Chashma nuclear power complex in Punjab, while another two are also under construction with Chinese
China’s nuclear cooperation with Pakistan has caused unease in Washington, Delhi and other capitals due
to fears about commitment to nuclear non-proliferation rules.
China says its nuclear ties with Pakistan are entirely peaceful
and come under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards. It has not given details of the project’s financing but
state media has put its total value at $9.59 billion.
“Bilateral cooperation in the energy sector is to help ameliorate
Pakistan’s energy shortages,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Monday. “This accords
with the interests of the Pakistani people.”
“There is no official information about preparedness for a nuclear
accident in Karachi that is available publicly,” said Zia Mian, a Pakistani-American physicist who directs the Project
on Peace and Security in South Asia at Princeton University.
“The only real obstacle that may exist to the new reactors
being built is if the citizens of Karachi decide they do not want to live with the risks these reactors create.”
the energy minister has dismissed the critics.
“Every 1,000 megawatts of electricity produced through nuclear energy
saves you $1 billion in oil imports,” Khawaja Asif, Minister for Water and Power, told Reuters.
can give me alternatives and other platforms to raise money for low-cost, clean power, I’m willing to listen.”....IPNEWS