A China supplied Ghaznavi nuclear capable ballistic missile

India said on Thursday it has seized dual-use equipment that experts had determined had “military applications” from a Pakistan-bound Chinese merchant vessel and asked China to ensure its entities don’t engage in activities that could contribute to proliferation.

Earlier in the day, China’s foreign ministry had contended the equipment seized by Indian authorities from the Hong Kong-registered ship, Da Cui Yun, wasn’t meant for military use and was not a dual use item.

The ship was detained by Indian customs at Kandla port on February 3 while on its way to port Qasim in Karachi. The action was taken on the basis of an intelligence tip-off. The vessel was allowed to proceed to Pakistan on February 20 after the equipment with civilian and military use was seized.

“Our authorities had detained a Chinese vessel ‘Da Cui Yan’ when it berthed in Kandla port in early February, as it had mis-declared the item that it was carrying. Our examination has revealed the item is an autoclave that is controlled under our Dual Use Export Control lists,” said external affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar.

“We have conveyed our concerns on this issue to the Chinese side and have highlighted that as a friendly country, the Chinese government will take appropriate measures to ensure that Chinese entities do not engage in activities that can contribute to proliferation,” he said.

The autoclave was seized by Indian authorities in line with the country’s legal procedure, Kumar said. “It has also been ascertained by our examination that this item has military applications,” he said.

Hindustan Times first reported the seizure of the equipment, which can be used in making very long-range ballistic missiles or satellite launch rockets. Experts from the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) confirmed the autoclave had military applications.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told a regular news briefing on Thursday that the equipment was a heat treatment system, which is not a dual use item under non-proliferation controls followed globally.

The ship was stopped by Indian authorities at Kandla port after the crew is said to have declared the autoclave as an industrial dryer:

“After seeking the information, we know this item is actually a heat treatment furnace shell system, produced by a private company in China,” Zhao said. “This is not for military use and it is not a dual-use item under the non-proliferation and export control.”

He added, “As a responsible major country, China has been strictly fulfilling international non-proliferation obligations and international commitments.” Zhao contended the Chinese ship’s owner had declared the item truthfully and there was “no concealment and forced declaration”.