Pakistan and China are currently in talks over a potential deal that could see China sell Pakistan three large nuclear plants for around $13 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday. The new talks come on the heels of China-Pakistan nuclear cooperation on a complex containing two nuclear plants in Karachi – a $9 billion project – which was ceremonially inducted by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in late 2013.
If an agreement is reached and Pakistan is able to acquire the funds to build the reactors, Pakistan’s electricity supply problems could be alleviated. Nuclear cooperation between China and Pakistan also highlights a much broader strategic partnership with greater economic, political, and military elements.
According to Ansar Parvez, chairman of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, Pakistan aims to output 8,800 megawatts of nuclear energy by 2030. Currently, 750 megawatts of Pakistan’s 12,000-14,000 megawatts of energy output are generated by nuclear plants.
The United States, an important ally for Pakistan, expressed concern at the deal according to the WSJ report, on the grounds that international rules prohibit nuclear commerce with countries such as Pakistan that are not signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT).
The $9 billion deal for the Karachi complex, which absolutely dwarfs other Chinese involvement in Pakistan’s domestic nuclear energy market, marked a new sort of advance in the “all-weather” partnership between China and Pakistan. Sino-Pakistani civil nuclear cooperation is emerging as a “growing counterpoint to [the] nuclear axis between the United States and India in recent years that Pakistani officials have seen as an irritant and Chinese officials have seen as a geopolitical challenge,” the New York Times noted.