Chinese vessel apprehended in Mumbai Harbor over alleged connection to Pakistan’s N-programme

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MUMBAI, India – On Saturday, Indian security agencies thwarted a potentially dangerous shipment bound for Karachi, Pakistan, at Mumbai port. The vessel, originating from China’s Shekou port, triggered alarm bells as it approached its destination.

The detained vessel, CMA CGM Attila, flying the Malta flag, had been under surveillance since January 23, following specific intelligence received by security agencies. Upon thorough inspection, officials uncovered a consignment containing a Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machine, allegedly manufactured by an Italian company. Authorities suspect that this sophisticated equipment was destined for use in Pakistan’s nuclear and missile programs.

Initial reports indicated that the vessel received the dual-use consignment from “Shanghai JXE Global Logistics Co Ltd”, with the consignee listed as “Pakistan Wings Pvt Ltd” in Sialkot. However, further investigation revealed a twist: the 22,000+ kg shipment was actually dispatched by “Taiyuan Mining Import and Export Co Ltd” and intended for “Cosmos Engineering” in Pakistan. Officials have now confirmed its potential application in Pakistan’s missile development efforts.

CNC machines, crucial for precision manufacturing, fall under the purview of the Wassenaar Arrangement, an international arms control regime. India actively participates in this initiative, which aims to restrict the proliferation of items with both civilian and military applications.

The investigation has exposed several irregularities in shipping documentation, suggesting possible evasion tactics employed to conceal the true recipients. This incident echoes previous instances of dual-use military-grade items allegedly transhipped from China to Pakistan, sparking concerns over illicit procurement.

Authorities are intensifying their scrutiny, focusing on whether the suspected Pakistani entities associated with these shipments have ties to the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DESTO)—the nerve center of Pakistan’s defense research and development.