Declared as an ‘industrial dryer’, the Indian authorities confiscated the pressure chamber and allowed the Chinese cargo ship’s Karachi-bound journey on February 4. (Photo Credit: MarineTraffic.com )
It is the plot straight out of a suspense thriller! A cargo ship, suspicious large machine, Bond-like intelligence tip-off and everything in between. Should Bollywood decide to make a movie on real-life drama involving India’s defence/intel officers after ‘URI: The Surgical Strike’, it can be this! A Chinese cargo ship that was reportedly carrying an ‘industrial dryer’ – a large pressure chamber – turned out be a component of Pakistan’s nuclear missile! The news was reported by The Hindustan Times on Wednesday. The scientists and researchers at the DRDO have finally confirmed what the intelligence agencies were suspecting so far. The development has not only exposed the sinister nuclear bond between China and Pakistan but also raised concerns over nuclear proliferation.
Technically known as ‘autoclave’, the equipment weighs several tonnes. It was part of the consignment on Dai Cui Yun cargo ship that started its journey from Jiangyan on January 17. The final destination of the cargo ship was Karachi’s Port Qasim. After nearly 15-day journey, the cargo ship reached Kandla port in Gujarat on February 3. The HT report said that the ship was almost cleared by the customs. The ship’s onward journey was halted after an intelligence input indicated at a suspicious equipment on the vessel. Declared as an ‘industrial dryer’, the Indian authorities confiscated the pressure chamber and allowed the Chinese cargo ship’s Karachi-bound journey. It should be noted that the dryer has civilian usage also. In military terms, the autoclave is used to launch the missiles.
The HT report on Wednesday said that the DRDO researchers have confirmed that equipment confiscated from Chinese ship is used for ‘manufacture of very long-range ballistic missiles or satellite launch rockets.’ Will New Delhi work under its stringent 2005 WMD Act in this case? That is up to the Narendra Modi government to decide. The Ministry of External Affairs defines the Weapons of Mass Destruction and Their Delivery Systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Act 2005 as “an Act to prohibit unlawful activities, in relation to weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. WHEREAS India is determined to safeguard.”
Last month, Islamabad had announced that it had successfully test-fired cruise missile called the Ra'ad-II. The Inter Services Public Relations, the PR wing of the Pakistan military, released a statement on the Ra'ad-II test, noting that the weapon had a range of 600km. The Ra'ad-II cruise missile is a modernised version of the Ra'ad-I missile, which Pakistan first test-fired in 2007 and was claimed to have a range of 350km.
(With agency inputs)