Maharashtra: Transshipment Of Dual Use Nuclear Equipment Bound For Pakistan From China Seized At Nhava Sheva Port

Maharashtra: Transshipment Of Dual Use Nuclear Equipment Bound For Pakistan From China Seized At Nhava Sheva Port

The sensitive cargo was loaded on to the Malta flagged cargo vessel "CMA CGM Attila" at Shekou port, which is located in Shenzen in China's Guangdong province.

Dharmesh Thakkar Ashish SinghUpdated: Saturday, March 02, 2024, 09:07 PM IST
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Transshipment Of Dual Use Nuclear Equipment Bound For Pakistan From China Seized At Nhava Sheva Port |

In a sensational development, officials of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) unearthed a covert operation to transship a consignment from China to Pakistan for Islamabad's nuclear and ballistic missile programme. The controversial consignment was seized at Nhava Sheva port on January 22nd. Scientists from the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) Hyderabad team opened the container for examination on February 16, 2024. After the examination, DRDO scientists confirmed that the consignment could be used for the nuclear and missile programme.

Cargo was en route to Karachi

The sensitive cargo was loaded on to the Malta flagged cargo vessel "CMA CGM Attila" at Shekou port, which is located in Shenzen in China's Guangdong province. It berthed at the Jawaharlal Nehru Port at Nhava Sheva on January 22 en route to Karachi. Following a sensitive tip-off received by the DRI, the suspect container was off loaded and the ship was allowed to proceed to Karachi.

Inspection by officials of the DRI and Customs resulted in the discovery of the sensitive cargo. The officials then asked the DRDO to check the cargo to ascertain its exact nature. The DRDO filed its report confirming the dual use (both civil and military) nature of the consignment after which it was seized.

Consignment contained CNC lathe machines

The consignment was specifically high tech Computer Numerical Controlled (CNC) lathe machines for manufacture of high precision tools having applications in defence and space programmes.

The customs officials at the Nhava Sheva port inspected the Italy- manufactured consignment which is prohibited under the Wassenaar Arrangement to prevent proliferation of dual use military equipment and technologies. The Wassenaar Arrangement of 1995 is an export control regime to which 42 countries are parties and it aimes to promote transperancy vis-a-vis export of conventional arms as also dual-use goods and technologies. The transfer of dual use military equipment and technology to Pakistan also violates the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) for illegal trade in nuclear weapons.

The CNC machine, which was used by North Korea in its nuclear programme, is a critical component required for Pakistan's missile development programme. The CNC machine controlled by super computers to produce a scale of efficiency, consistency and accuracy not possible manually for achieving critical nuclear fusion is a dual-use military-grade equipment.

Consignment was shipped to Pakistan under false declaration

A red flag was raised by intel agencies on suspected dual use consignment from the Shanghai JXE Global Logistics Co Ltd actually meant for the Pakistan military's Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DESTO), but was shipped under a false declaration to Pakistan Wings Pvt Ltd, Sialkot.

The scrutiny of the documents submitted to Nhava Sheva port authorities led the Customs on the trail of covert shipment of ballistic missile development equipment using logistics provider Pakistan Wings as a front. Pakistan Wings is one of the top forwarders of the country having operations to 85 countries and 125 representative offices worldwide. Certain top defence officials of Pakistan are suspected to be having major stakes in this company.

The probe into 22,180 kg consignment revealed the CNC machine procured by China from Europe was shipped by Taiyuan Mining Import and Export Co Ltd and was meant for Pakistan defence supplier Cosmos Engineering.

Pakistan wings under international watch list

Pakistan Wings has been under international watch list for facilitating dual use restricted military equipments and technology from China, Turkey and Italy. It has close ties with Quantam Logix which was sanctioned by the US Department of Commerce Export Administration Regulations.

International intelligence agencies have repeatedly raised concerns on the covert Chinese shipments of potential proliferation of dual use military technology contravening global agreements and regulations to Pakistan.

Last March, another dual use Italian-made thermoelectric instruments shipment for nuclear Uranium enrichment of the Pakistani defence supplier Cosmos Engineering was intercepted at the Nhava Sheva. China was a conduit to acquire restricted items from Europe and the US to mask identities and evade detection. It is unclear why ``Attila" carrying the controversial cargo berthed at Nhava Sheva despite knowing that an earlier consignment was seized in the same port by Indian authorities.

Another illicit shipment of industrial autoclave, crucial for missile production, concealed as industrial equipment on a Chinese vessel bound for Pakistan was detected in 2020.

The supply of autoclave to Pakistan under the cover of "industrial dryer" was seized from a Chinese vessel "Dai Cui Yun" under Hong Kong flag from Jiangyin port on the Yangtze river in Jiangsu province of China and bound for Pakistan's Port Qasim.

Last June, the US Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) had sanctioned three Chinese companies - General Technology Limited, Beijing Luo Luo Technology Development, and Changzhou Utek Composite Company - for its involvement in supplying equipments and technology to Pakistan's ballistic missile programme.

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