ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office on Saturday rejected Indian claims about the seizure of a potentially radioactive consignment on board a vessel that originated from Karachi, and clarified it contained empty containers that had previously been used for shipping fuel for K-2 and K-3 Nuclear Power Plants (NPPs).
“The reporting by the Indian media about seizure of possible radioactive material is factually incorrect, baseless, laughable and a usual ploy of the Indian media to malign Pakistan and mislead the international community,” FO spokesman Asim Iftikhar said in a statement.
Indian company Adani Ports, which manages Mundra Port where the Indian authorities offloaded several containers from a Shanghai-bound vessel on Thursday, had through a statement claimed: “A joint Customs and DRI team seized several containers at Mundra Port from a foreign vessel on concerns that they contained undeclared hazardous cargo.”
The Indian company said the cargo was listed as non-hazardous in the documents, although the seized containers allegedly had Hazard Class 7 markings indicating radioactive substances. Therefore, it said, the authorities offloaded the cargo for further inspection.
The FO spokesman, in his clarification said, the Karachi Nuclear Power Plant authorities had informed that the offloaded cargo contained ‘empty containers’ being returned to China and that they had previously been used for the transportation of fuel from China to Karachi for K-2 and K-3 NPPs.
Both K-2 and K-3 NPPs and the fuel used in these plants are under the International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards, the spokesman underscored. They have been under the IAEA safeguards since March 2017.
Safeguards are the measures through which the IAEA verifies that the nuclear facilities are not misused and nuclear material is not diverted from peaceful uses.
Pakistani officials say that the country’s commitment to the IAEA safeguards is demonstrated by the fact that all of its nuclear power plants and research reactors are under the IAEA safeguards without exception and the implementation of these safeguards was ensured even during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Rejecting the allegation of wrong declaration of the cargo in documents, the spokesman said the cargo was correctly declared as non-hazardous because the containers were empty.
“The fake reporting by Indian media is indicative of a mala fide intent to twist procedural customs issues to bring into disrepute IAEA safeguarded nuclear power programme,” he added.
Published in Dawn, November 21st, 2021