China and Pakistan in $5 billion nuclear deal

China and Pakistan have signed a deal worth some $5 billion to build a 1,200-megawatt nuclear power plant, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said.

Work on the Chashma 5 project will begin immediately, Sharif said on state-run news channel PTV following the signing of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between China National Nuclear Cooperation and Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission.

“Investment from China in this project to the tune of $4.8 billion sends a message loud and clear that Pakistan is a place where Chinese companies and investors continue to show their trust and faith,” Sharif said.

The Chashma 5 project will be built in the central province of Punjab. China’s support will help Pakistan make the transition away from reliance on fossil fuels.

Pakistan’s total nuclear energy production capacity rose to 1,400 mw, when the country’s sixth nuclear power plant opened two years ago. Located in the southern port city of Karachi, that 1,100 mw plant was also constructed with Chinese assistance.

The new project was originally planned to start a couple of years ago, and Sharif expressed thanks to the Chinese side for not rescheduling costs despite the long delay. Instead, he said, the Chinese had disbursed an initial 30 billion Pakistani rupees ($105 million) to start the project.

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