A Karachi-bound ship from China was stopped by Indian security agencies at Mumbai's Nhava Sheva port on suspicion that it contained a dual-use consignment that could be used for Pakistan's nuclear and ballistic missile programme. The customs officials, based on an intelligence input, halted a Malta-flagged merchant ship -- CMA CGM Attila -- at the port en route to Karachi on January 23 and inspected the consignment, which included a Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machine, originally manufactured by an Italian company. CNC machines are controlled by a computer and produce a scale of efficiency, consistency and accuracy not possible manually. 

A team from the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) also inspected the consignment and certified that it could be used by the neighbouring country for its nuclear programme. According to the experts, the equipment would be

useful in manufacturing critical parts for Pakistan's missile development programme.

Since 1996, CNC machines have been included in the Wassenaar Arrangement --an international arms control regime aimed at stopping the proliferation of equipment with both civilian and military uses. India is among the 42 member countries that exchange information on transfers of conventional weapons and dual-use goods and technologies. 

The CNC machine was used by North Korea in its nuclear programme. The port officials, with specific intelligence, had alerted the Indian defence authorities who inspected the heavy cargo and reported their suspicions, after which the consignment was seized, the officials said, adding that the seizure falls under the prevention of possible proliferation by Pakistan and China.

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