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India stops China to Pak ship for suspicious nuclear cargo

India stops China to Pak ship for suspicious nuclear cargo

Mumbai: Indian security agencies seized a dual-use military-grade consignment from a ship at Mumbai after the ship was stopped by them at the Nhava Sheva port over suspicion. The ship was coming from China and going to Pakistan's Karachi. Agencies believe that the consignment could be used for Pakistan's nuclear and ballistic missile programme, PTI reported.

The customs officials, based on an intelligence input, halted a Malta-flagged merchant ship -- CMA CGM Attila -- at the port en route to Karachi on January 23 and inspected the consignment, which included a Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machine, originally manufactured by an Italian company.

CNC machines are basically controlled by a computer and produce a scale of efficiency, consistency, and accuracy that is not possible manually.

A team from the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) also inspected the consignment and certified that it could be used by the neighbouring country for its nuclear programme.

According to the experts, the equipment would be useful in manufacturing critical parts for Pakistan's missile development programme.

Since 1996, CNC machines have been included in the Wassenaar Arrangement -- an international arms control regime aimed at stopping the proliferation of equipment with both civilian and military uses. India is among the 42 member countries that exchange information on transfers of conventional weapons and dual-use goods and technologies.

The CNC machine was used by North Korea in its nuclear programme.

The port officials, with specific intelligence, had alerted the Indian defence authorities who inspected the heavy cargo and reported their suspicions, after which the consignment was seized, the officials said, adding that the seizure falls under the prevention of possible proliferation by Pakistan and China.

According to documents such as bills of loading and other details of the consignment, the consigner was mentioned as "Shanghai JXE Global Logistics Co Ltd", and the consignee was "Pakistan Wings Pvt Ltd" of Sialkot.

However, a deeper investigation by the security agencies indicated that the consignment, weighing 22,180 kilogrammes, was shipped by Taiyuan Mining Import and Export Co Ltd and was meant for Cosmos Engineering in Pakistan, the officials said.

This is not the first instance when Indian port officials have seized such dual-use military-grade items being shipped from China to Pakistan.

Cosmos Engineering, a Pakistani defence supplier, has been on a watchlist since March 12, 2022, when Indian authorities intercepted a shipment of Italian-made thermoelectric instruments, once again at the Nhava Sheva port.

The officials said there have been concerns that Pakistan might be utilising China as a conduit to acquire restricted items from Europe and the US, masking identities to evade detection.

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