India’s customs officials detained a ship bound for Qasim, a port in Karachi, Pakistan for attempting to pass on an autoclave as an industrial dryer. The ship was allegedly carrying a machine that is used to launch ballistic missiles.
An intelligence tip-off about the ship was received by the Customs officials and based on intelligence, it was interrupted on February 3 when it stopped at Gujarat’s Kandla Port during its forward journey from Jiangyin Port in China.
The autoclave which is 18×4 metre in dimension is a pressure chamber that can be used for both civilian and military purposes. Officials from the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) are examining it at the moment.
Till now, the DRDO scientists have found that the autoclave which we are talking about is used to make the composite lining for solid-fuel ballistic missiles.
According to a Hindustan Times report, an additional team of nuclear scientists will study the autoclave this week. Furthermore, top-level national security officials and intelligence agencies have been summonsed about the detention of the ship carrying the autoclave.
The scientists are supposed to reach Kandla on February 17, to inspect the shipment. If their findings verify that of the first team, the autoclave will be seized. Additionally, the vessel’s owners would be charged for violating the Special Chemicals, Organisms, Materials, Equipment and Technologies’ (SCOMET) export rules.
The Ministry of External Affairs has refused to disclose particulars of the Chinese vessel, but what is known until now is that Da Cui Yun is the name of the ship.
The information available on the marinetraffic (a website that taps the movement of all listed vessels), has revealed that Da Cui Yun had left China for Port Mohammed Bin Qasim on January 17, 2020. Remarkably, the port where it was on its way to is close to the Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO), which established Pakistan’s nuclear programme.
The development has worried national security officials because of the connections shared between Pakistan and China. Back in 1989, Islamabad had entered into a contract with Beijing to buy 34 solid-fuel M-11 ballistic missiles. These missiles now form the core of Pakistan’s nuclear capability.
This occurrence has reminded security officials of the time a North Korean ship named Ku Wol San was interrupted at Kandla during the Kargil War. The ship was also bound for Pakistan and had likewise lied about its cargo. Although the vessel was carrying missile components, metal casings, missile manuals, etc, it had professed these as water-purification gear.