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Analyst: China Reactor Deal Needs Watching

Monday, 18 Dec 2006 | 2:16 PM ET

China is buying 4 nuclear reactors from Westinghouse (acquired this year by Japan's Toshiba ). Sounds like a big win for American technology. But critics are concerned the U.S. is selling off its competitive and technical edge. On today’s “Power Lunch” Bill Griffeth asked “When it comes to American ingenuity – are we giving away the store?”

His guests were William Hawkins, Senior Fellow at The U.S. Business and Industry Council and Dan Griswold, Director Of The Center For Trade Policy Studies at The Cato Institute.

Selling Nuclear Tech to China
A look at whether civilian nuclear technology sold to China and India could be put to military use, with William Hawkins, U.S. Business and Industry Council, Senior Fellow; Daniel Griswold, Director of Trade Policy Studies at the Cato Institute; and CNBC's Bill Griffeth.

William Hawkins said, “This is something that we will have to watch closely. China is in a different category than the other countries we’ve done this with before. In world events, China tends to be on one side of an issue and we’re on the other.”

“The Chinese already have French and Russian reactors, but they want American reactors.” They want (our technology so they can) put it into their future projects – and then come back and be competitors and China would (likely) use this technology to expand exports to problematic regimes around the world."

Dan Griswold says “China has been a nuclear power for 30 years – there are no nuclear implications. They need these reactors for electricity for their growing economy.”

“(What America is selling is) widely available technology -- if they don’t buy it from us they will buy it from France or Russia. It’s an $8 billion contract that’s going to support 5,000 good paying design, engineering and manufacturing jobs. This has no national security – no military implications.”

Today--President Bush signed a similar nuclear cooperation bill with India.

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  • Sue Herera is a founding member of CNBC, helping to launch the network in 1989. She is co-anchor of "Power Lunch."

  • Tyler Mathisen co-anchors CNBC's "Power Lunch." Mathisen also co-anchors "Nightly Business Report produced by CNBC."

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Kenny Polcari