US will oppose Sino-Pak nuclear deal

Washington: Breaking weeks of enigmatic silence the United States has finally said it will vote against an exemption for China to sell two civil nuclear reactors to Pakistan at the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) meeting. This assertion will go a long way towards getting the controversial deal stalled as by convention the NSG, an international cartel of nuclear fuel and equipment supplying nations, acts unanimously to either approve or negate deals.

Pakistan's plutonium production reactor at Khushab. Image Source: DigitalGlobeIts decisions, however, are non-binding on its members.

Making it stand on the issue amply clear a top Obama administration official told US lawmakers that Washington would vote against the Sino-Pak deal when it comes before the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

China recently revealed that it would like to honour a previous commitment to sell two additional civil nuclear reactors to Pakistan. The contention has been challenged with experts and nations claiming that no such previous commitment existed and it was a blatant attempt to supply n-equipment to Pakistan, a non-NPT signatory through the backdoor.

The United States asked China to clarify details on its supposed claim that the deal was ''grandfathered'' before it became a NPT or an NSG signatory when the issue came up before the NSG at its meeting last month in New Zealand.

"Yes sir, by definition, we do not support any activity that goes against the guidelines," said Vann H Van Diepen, acting assistant secretary of state for international security and non proliferation, in response to a question from Congressman Ed Royce, at a Congressional hearing convened by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.