Why Pakistan-Bound Ship From China Was Stopped At Mumbai Port

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Explained: Why Pak-Bound Ship From China Was Stopped At Mumbai Port

The ship was halted at Mumbai’s Nhava Sheva port on January 23. (Representational)

New Delhi:

Indian security agencies recently halted a Karachi-bound ship from China on the suspicion that it contained a dual-use consignment – weighing 22,180 kilogrammes – that could be used for Pakistan’s nuclear and ballistic missiles programme. Both China and Pakistan have denied that sensitive components were being transferred on the seized ship.

The customs officials, based on an intelligence input, stopped the Malta-flagged merchant ship – CMA CGM Attila – at the Nhava Sheva port on January 23 and inspected the consignment and found a Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machine, originally manufactured by an Italian company.

Why Was The Consignment Seized?

CNC machines are basically controlled by a computer and produce a scale of efficiency, consistency and accuracy not possible manually. These are often used in missiles.

These machines have been restricted under the Wassenaar Arrangement – an international arms control agreement which restricts the spread of tech which have civil and nuclear applications. India is among the 42 member countries that exchange information on transfers of conventional weapons and dual-use goods and technologies.

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

A Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) team has inspected the consignment and certified its possible use in Islamabad’s nuclear programme.

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

What Does India’s Probe Suggest?

The consignment was seized after port officials with specific intelligence, had alerted the Indian defence authorities who inspected the heavy cargo. Authorites said 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.

A deeper investigation by the security agencies indicated that the consignment was shipped by Taiyuan Mining Import and Export Co Ltd and meant for Cosmos Engineering in Pakistan, the officials told PTI.

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.

How Have Pakistan And China Reacted?

China has said that the consignment does not contain military equipment or a dual-use tech and that Beijing has been strictly fulfilling its international non-proliferation obligations while Pakistan has termed the action “India’s high handedness”.

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