"Chinese N-reactors to Pak a fallout of US-India nuke deal"

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Washington, Oct 24 : China's decision to supply two nuclear power plants to Pakistan is a fall out of the recently concluded Indo-US civil nuclear deal, say South Asia experts in the US.

According to them, the Indo-US N-deal is "prompting" other countries in "volatile region" South Asia to seek a similar deal, something the US had said would not happen.

Michael Krepon, a South Asia nuclear proliferation expert at the Henry L. Stimson Center in Washington, said: "You can't help but hear about China supplying Pakistan with nuclear power plants and see it as a reaction to the US-India deal. Pakistan is desperate for energy, as is India, but there are lower-cost and shorter-timeline options for producing it, so there is something else going on here and in the Middle East."

According to a report in the Christian Science Monitor (CSM), that "something else" is a regional scramble to counterbalance the nuclear plans of often untrusted neighbors. "In the case of Pakistan, it's the pursuit of a counterweight to offset the expanding US-India strategic partnership - particularly in the nuclear realm - through a similar, though less ambitious, partnership with China," added the report.

After his recent China visit, Zardari returned to Islamabad without the billions in loans he is believed to have sought from China, "so speculation has arisen that the nuclear deal was something of a consolation prize".

"It could be a political fig leaf, since Zardari didn't get the financial package he wanted, or China could be legitimately concerned about the US-India deal, it's hard to know," says Jon Wolfsthal, a nonproliferation expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

Wolfsthal said: "What is clear is that the US-India deal - which gives India, once a nuclear pariah for refusing to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, access to international nuclear technology and to fuel for nuclear power plants - is having an 'I-want-some-too' impact. The US-India deal makes it harder for the US to argue that countries like China shouldn't pursue nuclear trade with a country like Pakistan."

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