Pakistan’s attempt to procure dual-use material from Russia got a rude jolt, it is learnt that there was a deal between private companies of Pakistan and Russia for procurement of ‘hand-foot contamination indicator’ by Pakistan, the Russian side backed out from the deal after it learnt that the items were meant for Pakistan’s nuclear plant at Chashma.

According to details accessed by ANI, the Export Control Administration, Federal Service for Technical and Export Control (FSTEC) of Russia, refused to issue a license for exporting six hand-foot-contamination monitors by M/s Tehnocenter Ltd., Mendeleevo (Russia) to M/s Hassan Scientific corporation, Lahore, after realizing that the end-user was Chashma Nuclear Power Generating Station (CNPGS).

The Russian Government has been closely observing the efforts by Pakistani companies to procure critical products from the European market and have been extra cautious about such procurement from Russia. The attempts to procure such sensitive items from Europe has increasingly become challenging for Pakistani companies which have compelled them to turn to Russian private companies.

Pakistan traditionally has been procuring nuclear materials from private players in Europe but due to tight controls and rigorous checks and balances by regulatory bodies, Pakistan looked towards Russia as a potential market to fulfil its nuclear ambitions

According to informed sources, “In the case of procurement from Russia, the Pakistani side felt that Russian regulatory authorities probably do not have as stringent oversight mechanism. It is worth noting that when it comes to the procurement of dual-use nuclear products, the Pakistani state tends to overlook the nature of its bilateral relations with other countries. The steady building of relations with Russia did not deter Pakistan from procuring dual-use nuclear items from Russia discretely.”

“However, Russia had also put in place policies to track and prevent the supply of dual-use items which could be used for nuclear projects by Pakistan or other countries,” the source added.
Pakistan nevertheless continues to pursue its nuclear agenda using devious channels of procuring such items from other countries. In spite of having come under the radar by the International Atomic Energy Agency and scientific organizations across the world for resorting to unethical methods of acquiring technology meant for their nuclear project, Pakistan continues to innovate and devise new tactics for acquiring critical items for its nuclear program including from Russia.

This slight shift from the practice of procuring items from private Europe based manufacturers and suppliers is a result of a degree of saturation that they have reached in the European market because of the intrusive checks and balances prevalent there. However, countries like Russia have also put in place policies to track and prevent the supply of dual-use items which could be used for nuclear projects by Pakistan or other countries.

In January 2020, the US Department of Justice had announced that a Grand Jury had indicted five persons, all of who were associated with a Rawalpindi-based front company “Business World” which facilitated an international procurement network to acquire US origin products for Pakistan’s nuclear program. All five individuals were of Pakistani origin based out of Pakistan, Canada, Hong Kong and the UK. These individuals were charged by the US authorities mainly for exporting products from the US which, as per US regulations, pose threat to US national security by way of their use in Pakistan’s weapons program.

Pakistan also continued to make attempts to illegally procure nuclear products from German high tech companies to develop its Atomic weapons program. In this connection, in 2019, a German report mentioned that Germany had become an “important area of operation” for clandestine procurements by Pakistan, North Korea, Iran and Syria to obtain nuclear technology from various high tech firms.

The report prepared by the state of Baden-Wurttemberg indicated that within a period of six months in 2019, at least 2 attempts were made by Pakistani companies to procure sensitive nuclear use items from Germany. (ANI)