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Pakistan eyeing China's new 1,000-MW reactor

China's state-run nuclear energy company, China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), said this week its recently-unveiled 1,000-MW reactor, first of its kind in China, had passed safety inspections and was ready for use, even as officials said on Monday they had “not heard about” reports that the CNNC was planning to export two of these reactors to Pakistan.

Recent media reports in Pakistan, citing government documents, said the CNNC was in talks with the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission over setting up two 1,000-MW plants at the Karachi Nuclear Power Plant, Kanupp-2 and Kanupp-3.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Liu Weimin said at a briefing on Monday he had “not heard about” the deal and had “no information to provide”. “Maybe you have more information than I have,” he said in response to question about the reported deal.

The CNNC is already in talks with Pakistan to set up another 1,000-MW plant, the fifth at the Chashma nuclear power complex. CNNC's vice-president Qiu Jiangang told a meeting in Beijing last year that the Chashma-5 plant would be its biggest-ever operation overseas. “Both sides are in discussions over the CNNC exporting a one-GW nuclear plant to Pakistan,” he said last year.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry is yet to confirm agreements for any of the three proposed 1,000-MW reactors.

In a statement posted on its website, CNNC said its first 1,000-MW pressurised water reactor had “smoothly passed the inspection”. The reactor will be the first of six 1,000-MW generators that will come up at the Fuqing nuclear power plant, in southern Fujian province, due to come into operation in 2013. Construction began on the fifth and sixth generators late last year.

The CNNC said the successful inspection of the Fuqing unit 1, which was designed by the Nuclear Power Institute of China, reflected a significant landmark for the CNNC's design capabilities, giving the go-ahead to manufacture more 1,000-MW reactors.

Post-Fukushima

In March, China suspended approval for all new nuclear power plants and ordered a comprehensive safety review in the wake of the nuclear accident in Fukushima, Japan. Officials have, however, said nuclear power would remain a key component of China's sources of energy, with the country planning to reduce its carbon emissions and raise the proportion of non-fossil fuels in its primary energy consumption to 11.4 per cent in the next five years, up from 8.3 per cent.

But as China slows down on expanding its domestic nuclear power sector, its companies, such as CNNC, have renewed efforts to spread their presence overseas.

As part of that initiative, officials on Monday announced plans to set up a Centre of Excellence on Nuclear Security in Beijing to boost cooperation with Asian countries. Liu Daming, an official with the China Institute of Atomic Energy (CIAE), told the state-run China Daily that the centre would “help meet the training needs of developing countries to strengthen their capabilities of nuclear material accounting and control”.

Pakistan has so far been CNNC's biggest overseas market, with the company already building two reactors — Chashma-1, which opened in the year 2000, and the 300-MW Chashma-2, which went into operation this year.

CNNC's deals for two additional reactors, Chashma-3 and Chashma-4, signed in 2009, triggered controversy as they were agreed to after China joined the 46-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), which prohibits the sale or transfer of nuclear technology by its members to countries who have not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The NSG granted an exemption to India's civilian nuclear cooperation with the United States, but only after New Delhi took on a range of commitments.

In March, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) gave its approval to a safeguards agreement for the two new reactors in Chashma. Chinese officials have justified the deals signed by CNNC and other companies with Pakistan, saying China's cooperation was for civilian purposes, subject to IAEA safeguards and likely to go forward, with or without exemptions.

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Printable version | May 5, 2021 10:59:10 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/pakistan-eyeing-chinas-new-1000mw-reactor/article2627607.ece

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