India has seized several containers being shipped from Karachi to China, claiming they contained radioactive material. Pakistan, however, has rejected the Indian claims and said that the containers were empty and had been used earlier to transport fuel from China to Karachi for K-2 and K-3 nuclear power plants.
Pakistan Foreign Office has termed reports in the Indian media as “incorrect, baseless, laughable and a usual ploy of the Indian media to malign Pakistan.
The containers were on a foreign commercial vessel and were seized by Indian customs on Mundra Port in the Indian state of Gujrat on Thursday, but the development was reported on Saturday by Indian media outlets.
Pakistan Foreign Office has responded to media reports.
“We have noted the reports in the Indian media about ‘seizure of possible radioactive material’ by Indian port authorities at the Mundra Port on containers loaded on a Shanghai bound commercial vessel from Karachi Port. In this regard, the Karachi Nuclear Power Plant authorities have informed that these were ‘EMPTY CONTAINERS’ being returned to China which were earlier used for the transportation of fuel from China to Karachi for K-2 and K-3 Nuclear Power Plants,” a statement from the Foreign Office said.
“Both K-2 and K-3 Nuclear Power Plants and fuel used in these plants are under the IAEA safeguards. The containers were ‘EMPTY’ and the cargo was correctly declared as Non-Hazardous in the shipping documents,” the statement said.
The statement added that the reports by Indian media about the “seizure of possible radioactive material” were “factually incorrect, baseless, laughable and a usual ploy of the Indian media to malign Pakistan and mislead the international community.”
The fake reporting by Indian media is indicative of a malafide intent to twist procedural customs issues to bring into disrepute IAEA safeguarded nuclear power program, the statement said.
According to Indian media, authorities seized the cargo after finding Hazard Class 7 markings on the containers, though the shipment had been declared as non-hazardous.
They had the cargo offloaded on Mundra Port for further inspection, the Indian media outlets reported.
There was no official statement from the government of India. The only semi-official confirmation of media claims came from Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone (APSEZ), which operates Mundra Port.
The port operator said it cooperated with the authorities.
India’s poor record of radioactive safety
India’s record of nuclear safety has come under scrutiny after discovery of radioactive material in several states.
In August this year, the Indian authorities arrested two suspects from Kolkata for illegally possessing radioactive substances worth over $573 million.
The arrests were announced by a senior Crime Investigation Department (CID) officer.
Earlier in June, Indian police in Jharkhand state arrested seven people for possessing and planning to sell ‘mineral uranium’ in the black market.
Police at the time said they had seized 6.4kg of ‘uranium mineral’ from two of the accused.
In May Maharashtra Anti-Terror Squad arrested two men with over 7kg of uranium, according to India Today.
Pakistan Foreign Office in August expressed concerns over lax arrangements in India for the security of nuclear and other radioactive materials.