TEL AVIV (ISRAEL): Iron brothers China and Pakistan have entered into a new nuclear agreement that could possibly push the region towards a renewed nuclear arms race and make it further unstable amidst the ongoing Afghanistan turmoil.
The development was revealed by Fabien Baussart ,Chairman of Center of Political and Foreign Affairs (CPFA),an Israeli geo-political think tank in his blog post.
The Framework Agreement on Deepening Nuclear Energy Co-operation was signed by Pak Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) and Chinese CCP owned Zhongyuan Engineering Corporation for transfer of nuclear technology, uranium mining and processing, nuclear fuel supply & for setting up of research reactors. The agreement will therefore, help Pakistan increase its nuclear weapons stockpile.
The agreement reportedly would remain valid for ten years. Strengthening Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is to be seen as an offensive move and part of grand strategy by China to counter India’s rise in South Asia and beyond.
However, the 2021 agreement reported to have been signed last month, envisages co-operation in construction , maintenance and waste management of nuclear power reactors, it is most likely to be targeted for diversion of technology and material for reprocessing facilities meant for producing nuclear warhead material, if past accounts of Pakistan’s nuclear trade and diversion of technologies are to be taken into account.
The main objective of the arrangement is comprehensive cooperation on construction and maintenance of all future nuclear power projects ,that in itself is enough to raise legit suspicion about the agreement, considering the strategic alliance between China and Pakistan which is primarily targeted to destabilize India.
According to, the latest Bulletin of Atomic Scientist estimates (8 September, 2021), Pakistan already has 165 nuclear warheads. What makes the burgeoning nuclear arsenal perilous is the series of nuclear-capable missile tests carried out by Pakistan since the beginning of 2021 that includes– Ghaznavi (August 2021), Shaheen IA (March 2021),Ra’ad II (February 2021) and Shaheen II (January 2021).
Under the new agreement, four new plants are on the cards–two to be located at Karachi (K-4/K-5) and two at Muzaffargarh (M-1/M-2). These plants will be constructed under the EPC Mode by adopting Chinese Hualong One Pressurize Water Reaction (HPR)-100 technology.
The sites for M-1 and M-2 plants have already been finalised on banks of Taunsa-Panjnad link canal in Tehsil Kot Addu, near Muzaffargarh in Punjab. These two plants will have an estimated power generating capacity of 1100 megawatt each.
Five noteworthy components of the agreement which offers Pakistan unparalleled access to China’s nuclear capabilities in terms of technology, material and training are: a) Exploration and mining of uranium and training of personnel; b) Lifetime nuclear fuel supply and supply of initial refuelling fuel assemblies and associated core components; c) setting up of miniature neutron source reactor ; d) Radioactive management resources and assistance, including decommissioning of nuclear facilities, radioactive waste transport and disposal and radiation protection measures and; e) Nuclear technology application, including nuclear medicine, irradiation processing, radio pharmaceuticals, radioactive sources supply and manpower training.
Supplementary agreements to augment the main agreement are to be signed in the time to come.
China-Pakistan nuclear cooperation goes back to 1986. Starting with construction of nuclear power plants, China over the years has been responsible for supporting Pakistan’s nuclear programme under the guise of such agreements.
The power plants constructed with Chinese assistance include four Chashma Nuclear Power Plants and two nuclear power plants at Karachi. All the Chashma plants are operational. The first plant at Karachi (K-2) became operational in March 2021 and the second plant is expected to initiate its fuel loading in October this year.
Experts have been seeing this development through the prism of AUKUS agreement signed recently to provide nuclear powered submarines to Australia by asserting that, “AUKUS has provided countries to find loopholes in existing Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaties and has set to renew a nuclear arms race in the theater of conflicts around the world“.
It is worth mentioning here that Pakistan is the only nuclear weapon state in the world that does not have any “No First Strike” policy meaning it gives them the power to strike without any provocation and the arrangement with China sends warning signals to New Delhi and makes it imperative to put in place a robust missile defence system to neutralize such threats in future.