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International tensions: India blocks ship carrying equipment that could be used in making ballistic missiles bound for Pakistan



Indian security agencies have detained a ship from China bound for Pakistan at the port of Nhava Sheva in Mumbai on suspicion of containing dual-use cargo that could be used for Pakistan’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, Indian security officials told PTI news agency on Saturday.

Customs officials reportedly stopped a Maltese-flagged merchant ship, the CMA CGM Attila, at the port on Jan. 23. The ship was bound for Karachi, Pakistan. The action was taken based on intelligence information.

Officials inspected the shipment, which included a computer numerical control (CNC) machine originally manufactured by an Italian company. A team from the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) also inspected the consignment and certified that it could be used by the neighboring country for its nuclear program.

Italy was a center of excellence in making CNC machining centers, part of our mechanical excellence that is increasingly in trouble. CNC machines are programmable multifunction milling machines capable of reproducing high-quality parts from an electronically loaded drawing or directly from the original part. They are indispensable tools for precision mechanics.


Italian made CNC working center

Port officials alerted Indian defense authorities, who inspected the heavy cargo and reported their suspicions. As a result, the consignment was seized, officials said. The seizure is part of the “prevention of possible proliferation by Pakistan and China.”

Documents, such as bills of lading and other details of the shipment, state that the shipper is “Shanghai JXE Global Logistics Co Ltd” and the consignee is “Pakistan Wings Pvt Ltd” of Sialkot. The shipment weighed 22,180 kilograms.

However, “an investigation by security agencies suggested that the consignment was shipped by Taiyuan Mining Import and Export Co. Ltd. and destined for Cosmos Engineering (a Pakistani supplier of defense products) in Pakistan,” officials told PTI.

This is not the first incident

This is not the first time Indian port officials have seized dual-use military items shipped from China to Pakistan.

According to PTI, Cosmos Engineering has been on the watch list since March 12, 2022, when Indian authorities intercepted a shipment of Italian-made thermoelectric instruments once again at the port of Nhava Sheva.

In February 2020, China was supplying autoclaves to Pakistan under the cover of “industrial dryers.” The autoclave was seized from a Chinese ship, Dai Cui Yun, which was flying a Hong Kong flag and had departed from Jiangyin port on the Yangtze River in China’s Jiangsu province, bound for Port Qasim in Pakistan.

The autoclave was probably intended for use in Pakistan’s missile program. The seizure reinforced apprehension that Pakistan is unabashedly engaging in illegal missile trade and violating the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).

Concerns over China’s support for Pakistan’s nuclear programs

Concerns have intensified over China’s support for Pakistan’s nuclear and missile programs. Officials said they are concerned that Pakistan may use China as a conduit to purchase restricted items from Europe and the United States, masking identities to evade detection. After all, there is a strategic cooperation pact between Pakistan and China that alarms New Delhi, which feels surrounded by hostile powers.

Officials said China’s assistance to Pakistan has manifested itself in two ways: by clandestinely supplying sensitive and proliferation-interested materials and equipment and by acting as a conduit to facilitate the country’s acquisition of dual-use military items and equipment from overseas, particularly from Europe and the United States.

The ongoing investigation aims to determine whether Pakistani entities suspected of receiving these dual-use items are supplying them to the Defense Science and Technology Organization (DESTO), which is responsible for much of Pakistan’s defense research and development, the news agency said.

In addition, China has assisted Pakistan in building civilian nuclear power plants. China has built four 300 MWE nuclear power plants in Chashma and two 1,000 MWE plants in Karachi, violating Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) guidelines. China plans to build another 1,000 MWE nuclear power plant in Chashma.

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