"China has noted the relevant report", Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a media briefing in Beijing today. He was replying to a question on reports from Washington that Beijing has secretly entered a deal with Pakistan to construct the plant at Chashma in Punjab province.
On allegations that the deal violated the norms set by 46 member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), which regulates the issues relating to nuclear proliferation and commerce, Hong said, "I want to point out that relevant cooperation between China and Pakistan does not violate relevant norms of the NSG".
In recent years China and Pakistan have had some cooperation in the field of civilian nuclear cooperation, he said. All this cooperation is for peaceful use and this cooperation is in compliance with our respective international obligations and subject to the safeguards of the IAEA, Hong said.
A Washington-based news report had said two days ago that China has secretly signed the deal to construct a new power plant at Chashma. China has so far aided and assisted Pakistan in constructing four power plants at Chashma. Chashma I and II were stated to be 300 MW each and as per the previous plans the III and IV were stated to have 340 MW each. While I and II were already commissioned, three and four were expected to be commissioned in 2016.
It is not clear whether the 1000 MW reactor would be a fifth one to be constructed there or the third reactor would be upgraded.
China argues that the new 1000 MW plant which it refers one Giga-watt reactor was "grandfathered" by a previous agreement that led to the construction and operation of earlier nuclear power plants at Chashma.
According to the US media report, the China-Pakistan agreement calls for the state-run China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) to construct a 1,000-megawatt power plant at Chashma.
The Washington Free Beacon quoted unnamed state department official as saying the Chinese move would be in violation of its promise to the NSG. China, which joined NSG in 2005, agreed not to sell additional reactors to Pakistan beyond the two reactors sold earlier.
"NSG participating governments have discussed the issue of China's expansion of nuclear cooperation with Pakistan at the last several NSG plenary sessions," a state department official was quoted as saying.
"We remain concerned that a transfer of new reactors at Chashma appears to extend beyond the cooperation that was 'grandfathered' in when China was approved for membership in the NSG," the official told the Beacon, which reported that the US is expected to protest the sale at an upcoming NSG meeting in June.
India too in the past has expressed its concerns to Beijing over China's nuclear engagement with Pakistan. China's move to build a new plant comes after it developed an indigenous one Gigawatt plant of its own.
Though China has constructed several of 1000 MW nuclear plants, most of them were based on the foreign technology, specially, that of Japan, France and US. China could not export the 1000 MW reactor technology to Pakistan due to objections from foreign suppliers.
Last November, China said it has rolled out its advanced 1,000 MW pressurised water nuclear power reactor, ACPR-1000 at the Hi-Tech Fair in Shenzhen.
The reactor was "independently" developed by China Guangdong Nuclear Power Corporation with full IPR and made its debuted at the 13th China Hi-Tech Fair, according to the official media.