Anti-nuclear campaigners are of the view that the recently signed nuclear deal between the U.K. and China will only add to nuclear proliferation across the globe. The two countries signed a deal on Wednesday through which China will invest in two nuclear power plants in the U.K. The deal was signed during Chinese Prime Minister Xi Jinping’s visit to Britain this week. Both Xi Jinping and U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron were present at Downing Street when the deal, believed to be worth £40 billion ($62 billion), was signed. The deal has been touted as the start of a new era of mutually beneficent relations between the two nations.
According to the deal, China’s General Nuclear Corporation (CGN), which is owned by the Chinese government, will have a one-third stake in the construction of the Hinkley Point C Nuclear Plant. The total cost of this plant is believed to be in the region of £18 billion ($28 billion). A majority of the shares in that plant are being controlled by EDF Energy, a French state-owned company. In addition to the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant, CGN will also take two-thirds of another nuclear plant in Essex, the Bradwell nuclear power facility. The third plant in which China will invest is the Sizewell plant. This plant has Areva-designed reactors, and CGN will own a one-fifth stake in this project.
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Irking people left, right and center
Environmentalists and security practitioners in the U.K. have slammed the deal between the U.K. and China. Security practitioners are of the view that China cannot be trusted and that the U.K. must not expose itself to this. Environmentalists, on the other hand, argue that while on one hand, the United Kingdom is taking subsidies away from renewable energy sources, on the other, it is allowing China to invest in its nuclear energy program. They argue that the U.K. must revert to other alternative renewable resources and should not rely on nuclear plants to meet its energy needs.
The deal has once again highlighted the debate of whether China can be interested in international arena. The international community is still undecided on the intentions of China in world politics, and thus a number of international relations scholars have termed this deal “dangerous.” One thing is clear, however, which is that wherever countries can take advantage of Chinese money, they will step up and take it, regardless of their concerns regarding China’s ambitions in international politics.
U.K. okay with making nuclear deal with China
U.K. officials have taken this very stance that Chinese investment is welcomed as long as it poses no threat to national security. They have termed this agreement as ideal and common sense. Why not take Chinese money and expertise for something better? What’s there for Britain to lose? Taking China’s investment to meet their energy needs while not letting Beijing interfere in other internal matters of the country is what the U.K. is aiming to achieve from this nuclear agreement. People in favor of this deal do not agree with the notion that it is a dangerous deal. They believe that the deal will benefit both countries in the long run. They also rebuff claims by some security practitioners that the deal will fail because of the competition between China and the U.K.
Environmentalists and anti-nuclear campaigners have slammed this deal, saying that it is as dangerous as it can get. They have slammed the timing of the deal by the British government. They have also condemned the British government for removing subsidies for renewable energy and pushing through for this nuclear deal with China. General Secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) Kate Hudson has termed this deal the most dangerous and wrong agreement of the 21st Century.
In a statement, Hudson criticized the U.K. and China for going through with this deal. Instead of working on cooperation between climate change and environmental security, this deal has gone backwards to relying on nuclear power, which is a dangerous trend. Not only that, nuclear power is expensive and is the major source for greenhouse gasses in the world, according to the CND.
In addition to that, the CND warned Britain that nuclear plants are a target for terrorists. Terrorist groups want to get their hands on a nuclear arsenal in order to achieve their targets. This nuclear deal will add to the threat of the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The CND added that the more enriched uranium is there in the world, the higher the possibility of acquiring dirty bombs becomes.
Nuclear deal ignores potential of renewable energy
The CND has urged Britain to focus on renewable and sustainable energy sources instead. In the statement issued by the CND in the aftermath of the deal between the U.K. and China, the U.K. government has been urged to use alternative methods to meet its energy requirements rather than relying on China in the nuclear sector. The campaigners stated that the future of nuclear power is drab. The world will run out of uranium altogether in the coming 50 years.
In addition to the CND, many other national leaders condemned the decision by David Cameron’s government to strike this deal with China, overlooking several national interests in the process. Just because it was a good nuclear deal does not mean that the U.K. should overlook its national interests in exchange for Chinese money. Several concerns have been raised by critics of China in the wake of this deal. What if China uses its cyber-espionage abilities to take control of these nuclear plants whenever it wants? According to these security practitioners, national security should always be prioritized.
While the U.K.’s current government sees China as an opportunity, a number of security analysts still consider the rising global power as a threat to their national security, and such a deal might give Beijing enough leeway to further its mysterious agenda.