Fukushima crisis won't affect Pak-China nuke cooperation

By Matt Velker
0 CommentsPrint E-mail China.org.cn, May 11, 2011
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The accident at Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant will not affect civil nuclear cooperation between Pakistan and China, Pakistan's ambassador to China said on Friday in an exclusive interview with China.org.cn.

 In an exclusive interview with China.org.cn on May 6, Mr. Masood Khan, Pakistan's ambassador to China, said the accident at Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant will not affect civil nuclear cooperation between Pakistan and China. [China.org.cn on]

Ambassador Masood Khan said plans to work with China to build two more 340-megawatt nuclear reactors at the Chashma facility in Punjab Province would go ahead as scheduled.

"Immediately after the Fukushima accidents, China conducted the most rigorous stress tests just to make sure that their systems were up to the mark," Khan said. "They have given a clean bill of health to their nuclear power plants and their nuclear technology. We are satisfied that these two C3 and C4 [nuclear reactors] are not going to be affected by the Fukushima accident."

Pakistan urgently needs to expand its power generation capacity. The nation of 170 million has suffered continual energy shortfalls in recent years as its rapid economic growth outpaces its ability to produce power.

The country's energy shortfall now stands at about 3,000 megawatts, according to figures from Pakistan's Ministry of Water and Power, forcing the government to engage in load shedding, controlled power cuts, and leaving Pakistanis to depend on generators for a consistent source of electricity.

Pakistan relies heavily on fossil fuels and hydropower to generate power. The two sources account for 65 percent and 34 percent of total electricity generated in the country.

Nuclear plants only produce a small fraction of the country's power. At 725 megawatts, nuclear sources account for a mere 2.4 percent of electricity generated in the country. The Chashma-3 and Chashma-4 reactors would nearly double this capacity, adding another 680 megawatts to the grid.

The reactors have drawn criticism from the West, with government officials and commentators expressing safety and proliferations concerns.

Khan dismissed these worries in the interview Friday, emphasizing Pakistan's impeccable nuclear safety record. He said the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors "went along with" plans for the two projects at a recent meeting.

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani will likely discuss further Sino-Pakistani nuclear cooperation next week when he meets with Chinese government leadership in Beijing to commemorate 60 years of diplomatic relations between the two nations.

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