Could Pakistan host a nuclear park?

23 August 2005

The Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission has reportedly asked President General Pervez Musharraf to propose that Western nations invest in building 13 nuclear power plants in the country to be managed under full IAEA safeguards.

The project sites have been described as ‘zones’ and ‘parks’ which would be partly or fully owned by the investing Western states. Pakistan reportedly sees the idea as a way to meet growing power demand and boost its own nuclear power programme whilst satisfying Western concerns over non-proliferation.

Despite Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and refusal to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the country has a history of international cooperation in nuclear build as well as IAEA oversight.

Pakistan is currently cooperating with China on the development of the Chashma 2 unit, a 300MWe PWR 280Km from the capital Islamabad. It is scheduled for connection to the grid by 2011. Chashma 1 was also built with Chinese help and was originally based very closely on the first indigenous Chinese unit, Qinshan 1.

Besides the two Chashma units, the only other nuclear power plant in the country is a 137MWe Candu unit near Karachi which was built under IAEA safeguards and initially operated with Canadian support. Canada was forced to end the deal in December 1976 over Pakistan’s failure to sign the NPT.

Following Canada’s withdrawal, Pakistan developed its own heavy water and fuel fabrication facilities, which are operated under IAEA safeguards. A materials storage depot is also under safeguards. Inspectors reportedly visit every three months, while video monitoring systems run constantly.

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