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Friday, March 20, 1998

CONTACT: Paul Leventhal


"For lack of Congressional action and Presidential resolve, the U.S.-China Nuclear Cooperation Agreement has come into force despite evidence that China is not living up to its side of the bargain," said Paul Leventhal, president of the Nuclear Control Institute. "The clear message is that this agreement will be only as good as the quality of U.S. intelligence.

"China cannot be counted on to honor its commitments not to help Iran or Pakistan acquire nuclear weapons. At most, it can be expected to back down if the United States is able to discover Chinese violations---such as the recent Chinese arrangement to sell Iran a commodity needed to enrich uranium to weapons grade.

"The next violation the United States should be on the look-out for is China providing Pakistan heavy water to start up a military plutonium production reactor at Khushab. China assisted Pakistan in building this unsafeguarded reactor, but recently promised the United States it will not supply the heavy water Pakistan needs to operate the reactor.

"China, however, has supplied Pakistan with far more heavy water than it needs to operate the safeguarded Kanupp nuclear power reactor, making it likely that Pakistan will be able to divert heavy water from this civilian plant to the Khushab military plant. U.S. government nuclear experts are skeptical that inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency could detect a diversion of heavy water from Kanupp to Khushab. If the Khushab reactor starts up, there will little doubt that the heavy water came from China.

"President Clinton's decision to certify China's good behavior and allow exports of nuclear reactors and fuel to China is premature, at best. He should have withdrawn and deferred certification after China's latest violation was uncovered. Congress should have imposed a one-year waiting period to test China's intentions, and it should have required the President to re-certify China's good behavior before any export license for reactors or fuel to China could be approved.

"By doing nothing, the President and Congress benefit only Westinghouse and other U.S. nuclear vendors while undercutting U.S. non-proliferation leadership in the world. If China continues to help Iran and Pakistan develop nuclear weapons, let's hope the United States finds out in time to stop it."

Further information and documents on China's nuclear record can be downloaded from the NCI Website: http://www.nci.org/nci-usc.htm


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