China on Monday indicated it will continue providing support for civilian nuclear energy projects in Pakistan, despite concerns voiced by some countries that recent agreements have violated international guidelines governing nuclear trade.

The Foreign Ministry here said, referring to a new nuclear power project inaugurated last month in Karachi, that “relevant cooperation between China and Pakistan helps alleviate power shortage in Pakistan and serves the interests of local people”.

“China will continue to help Pakistan tackle the shortage of power as its capacity allows,” said spokesperson Hua Chunying.

Last month, Pakistan formally inaugurated two 1,100 MW projects at the second and third phases of the Karachi nuclear power project. The deals follow Chinese support to the nuclear complex at Chashma, where two reactors have been constructed with Beijing’s assistance,

The agreements for third and fourth reactors in Chashma, signed in 2009, triggered controversy as they were the first deals signed by China following its joining of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). The nuclear trade body forbids members from transferring technology to countries that have not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). India obtained a waiver from the body only after undertaking various commitments.

While Chinese officials defended the deals by arguing they had been “grandfathered” under the earlier Chashma agreement that predated China’s membership of the NSG, even some strategic analysts in Beijing privately acknowledge that it is far more difficult to make a case for the new Karachi agreements.

Ms. Hua, the spokesperson, however, defended the deals, saying the two countries’ “relevant cooperation, which is totally for peaceful purposes, meets their respective international obligations and is subject to the safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)”.

“I also want to point out”, she added, “that China takes issues concerning the peaceful use of nuclear energy seriously.

Under the precondition of nuclear non-proliferation, we carry out active cooperation and communication with relevant countries and the IAEA in the peaceful use of nuclear energy and provide assistance for other developing countries in developing nuclear energy.”

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