Customs detains Karachi-bound ship in Gujarat: Report

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on February 17, 2020 Published on February 17, 2020

Ship was carrying a dual-use autoclave in it

Indian customs officials detained a ship bearing a flag of Hong Kong and bound for Port Qasim in Karachi. The officials seized the ship as it was carrying an autoclave -- a pressure chamber that is used for launching ballistic missiles, Hindustan Times reported.

The ship emerged days after China and Pakistan revived their nuclear proliferation deal. An investigation has been underway at the Kandla Port in Gujarat since February 3, when it was first intercepted.

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has conducted a preliminary test. A team of nuclear scientists due to conduct a second test will inspect the large autoclave. If the second team corroborates the findings of the first, customs will detain the cargo indefinitely and charge the vessel and its owners with violations of Special Chemicals, Organisms, Materials, Equipment and Technologies (Scomet) export regulations, the HT report added.

The ship named Da Cui Yun left Jiangyin port on the Yangtze River in China’s Jiangsu province on January 17 last month. The ship was bound for Karachi, where the Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (Suparco), responsible for Pakistan's ballistic missile programme, is based. However, it dropped anchor at Kandla Port on February 3, following which the highest officials were brought to notice, as per HT report.

DRDO intercepted the cargo on the basis of intelligence tip-off. The 18x4 meter autoclave was designed in China in 2011 and weighs around 28,341-tonne. The cargo has been certified as a “dual-use” item, which means it can be used for both civilian and military purposes.

Experts quoted in the HT report are concerned because the incident reminds them of the 1999 Kargil War when a North Korean ship -- Ku Wol San, was seized at Kandla Port. The ship masked war components -- metal casings and Scud missile manuals -- as water purification equipment.

The industrial autoclave retrieved at Kandla Port is used for manufacturing composite lining for solid-fuel ballistic missiles. The composite material liner is designed to withstand high pressure during the launch of a missile.






Published on February 17, 2020
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