China has defended its nuclear deal with Pakistan as peaceful. The foreign ministry spokesman's remarks came after the US announced that it had sought clarification from Beijing on the sale of two reactors to Islamabad.
China is self-reliant in constructing nuclear reactors
China says its nuclear cooperation with Pakistan is in line with international obligations. "It is for peaceful purposes, and is under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency," foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang told reporters in Beijing.
The People's Republic's state-run China National Nuclear Corporation has reportedly agreed to finance at least two civilian nuclear reactors in Pakistan's Punjab province.
The deal has sparked concerns in the US. Washington has asked China for more clarification.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang
US to raise the issue at NSG meeting
On Tuesday, US State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters that such an agreement must be approved by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
"We have asked China to clarify the details of its sale of additional nuclear reactors to Pakistan. This appears to extend beyond cooperation that was grandfathered when China was approved for membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group," he said. The US is likely to oppose the China-Pakistan deal next week at a meeting of the NSG.
China has apparently argued that there is no need to involve the NSG because its civilian nuclear cooperation with Pakistan pre-dates its joining the NSG in 2004. The 46-nation group of nuclear energy states controls the international sale of nuclear technology to ensure they are applied only to civilian nuclear energy programs. The group also forbids exports to nations lacking strict International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards.
Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan is a former head of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program
In 2008 the US signed a civilian nuclear agreement with India, which has not signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
Pakistan, which like India has never joined the NPT, has since been seeking a similar deal with the US.
But experts say the US is reluctant to do so, given mounting insurgency in Pakistan and concerns over nuclear proliferation. In 2004, the former head of Pakistan's nuclear program Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan confessed to selling nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea.
Editor: Thomas Baerthlein