• Three of the four companies sanctioned are based in China and one in Belarus
• Pakistan says ‘discriminatory’ approaches hurt credibility of non-proliferation regimes
• Points out such listings took place in the past ‘without sharing any evidence whatsoever’

ISLAMABAD / WASHINGTON: Pakistan rejected the “political use of export controls” after the United States imposed sanctions on four entities for their alleged involvement in supplying “missile-applicable items” to Pakistan’s ballistic missile programme, the Foreign Office said on Saturday.

The US State Department claimed on Friday evening that the entities — three Chinese and one from Belarus — were particularly assisting Pakistan’s long-range missile endeavours.

The statement specified that “the ultimate goal of sanctions is not to punish, but to bring about a positive change in behaviour”.

The entities facing sanctions include the Belarus-based Minsk Wheel Tractor Plant, the People’s Republic of China-based Xi’an Longde Technology Development Company Limited, Tianjin Crea­tive Source International Trade Co Ltd and Granpect Company Limited.

As per the sanctions imposed under Executive Order 13382, all property and interests in property of the designated entities that are in the United States or under the control of US persons are now blocked. Furthermore, any individuals or entities with ownership, directly or indirectly, of 50 per cent or more by the designated persons are also subject to these sanctions.

These measures prohibit transactions involving any property or interests in property of designated or blocked persons unless authorised by the Office of Foreign Assets Control or exempt. This includes contributions and provision of funds, goods, or services to or from any blocked person.

Moreover, the entry of designated individuals into the United States has been suspended under Presidential Proclamation 8693.

The US government explained that “the integrity of these sanctions lies not only in the ability to designate and add persons to the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List, but also in the willingness to remove persons from the list in accordance with the law”.

Following the sanctions, FO spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch issued a statement, saying: “We reject political use of export controls. It is well known that the same jurisdictions, which claim strict adherence to non-proliferation controls, have waived off licensing requirements for advanced military technologies for some countries.”

She added that “such discriminatory approaches and double standards” undermine the credibility of non-proliferation regimes and also the objectives of regional and global peace and security by “accentuating military asymmetries”.

Ms Baloch said that such listings of commercial entities took place in the past as well on allegations of links to Pakistan’s ballistic missile programme “without sharing any evidence whatsoever”.

Washington alleged that it had sanctioned Minsk Wheel Tractor Plant for supplying special vehicle chassis used as launch support equipment for ballistic missiles.

Xi’an Longde Technology Development Company Limited, the US claimed, supplied equipment including a filament winding machine. The winding machine is said to be essential for producing rocket motor cases.

Tianjin Creative Source International Trade Co Ltd is accused of providing stir welding equipment and a linear accelerator system, technologies assessed by the United States as pivotal in manufacturing propellant tanks and inspecting solid rocket motors, respectively. These items were suspected by US to be intended for Pakistan’s Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (Suparco), which develops and produces MTCR Category I ballistic missiles.

Granpect Company Limited is alleged to have supplied to both Suparco and NDC testing equipment for large diameter rocket motors, which are crucial for the missile development process.

The spokesperson said Pakistan was ready to discuss end-use and end-user verification mechanisms so that legitimate commercial users were not hurt by the “discriminatory application” of export controls.

‘Carrot & stick policy’

Shuja Nawaz, a fellow at the South Asia Center of the Atlantic Council in Washington, told Dawn that “the nub of US sanctions on four entities allegedly supplying missile technology to Pakistan is captured in its stated aim: the ultimate goal of sanctions is not to punish, but to bring about a positive change in behaviour.” But he also noted that the sanctions directly punished Pakistan for pursuing the development of missiles.

Mr Nawaz suggested that Pakistani authorities should also “ask themselves who inside Pakistan provided the information to American authorities?”

Published in Dawn, April 21st, 2024

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