July 13, 2024

Pakistan has been maximizing the civilian use of nuclear energy for economic prosperity, despite the Nuclear Supplier Group’s (NSG) discriminatory denial approach towards the country. Besides, Islamabad has increased nuclear technology and material used in medical and agricultural sectors. Its indigenous capability, especially scientifically trained human resource and the safety and security apparatuses of nuclear facilities, underscores the country’s civilian use of nuclear technology, and the material will increase systematically.

India’s nuclear explosion on May 18, 1974 instigated the United States and its like-minded states to create the NSG. Consequently, Canada and the US terminated their material and nuclear fuel supply to India.

Although Pakistan did not violate any agreement with the vendor of its first nuclear power plant, the Karachi Nuclear Power Plant (KANUP), Canada immediately ended its material supply to the reactor construction after India’s nuclear test. Washington also managed to get Paris to cancel the France-Pakistan nuclear reprocessing plant agreement in June 1978. Both these projects were in their initial stages of construction, and the sudden terminations of these contracts derailed the nascent nuclear industry of Pakistan.

But there was a silver lining, and the constructive outcome of the others’ denial was the indigenous progress of Pakistan’s nuclear industry. And so today, Pakistan is a nuclear weapon state and successfully manages its civil nuclear industry to boost agriculture yield, to treat patients in hospitals, and operates six nuclear power plants. Notably, Pakistani nuclear engineers completed the KANUP-1 and successfully managed it without the vendor’s support for nearly four decades before decommissioning it. They also completed the nuclear reprocessing facility at Khushab to garner nuclear-spent fuel for making weapon-grade plutonium.


Pakistan and China signed a $4.8 billion memorandum of understanding on June 20 to build the seventh Chinese nuclear power plant in the country named Chashma-5.


Zafar Nawaz Jaspal


Realizing the West’s attitude towards Pakistan’s nuclear program, Islamabad approached China to supplement its civilian nuclear program under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards. China had assisted Pakistan in reviving and advancing its nuclear power generation industry. Beijing joined NSG in 2004 but has continued nuclear cooperation for civilian use with Pakistan under the ‘grand-fathered’ clause of international law.

Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) and China National Nuclear Cooperation (CNNC) signed a $4.8 billion memorandum of understanding on June 20 to build the seventh Chinese nuclear power plant in the country named Chashma-5 (C-5).

According to Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, C-5 is part of Pakistan’s energy security plan to diversify the energy mix, focusing on ensuring the provision of cheap electricity to the industry and relief to the ordinary person. Indeed, without the economic cum uninterrupted electricity supply, the industrial growth of the country is compromised.

In the domain of power generation, the generous assistance of China, particularly in constructing nuclear power plants, is remarkable. Pakistan has been increasing its atomic energy contribution to its nuclear energy mix. Therefore, it has been growing its nuclear power generation capacity with the assistance of China. Its entire civilian nuclear program is under IAEA safeguards. Hence, the Chinese are convinced that Pakistan will not reprocess Chinese-built nuclear power plant’s spent fuel for weapon-grade fissile material.

PM Sharif also said of the new project, that it would send a message “loud and clear” that Pakistan is a place where Chinese companies and investors can continue to sow the seeds of their unequivocal trust.


– Dr. Zafar Nawaz Jaspal is an Islamabad-based analyst and professor at the School of Politics and International Relations, Quaid-i-Azam University. E-mail: jaspal_99@hotmail.com Twitter: @zafar_jaspal


Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News’ point-of-view

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