Islamabad: The US has imposed sanctions on seven Pakistani companies for allegedly engaging in nuclear trade in a move that could undermine Pakistan’s ambition of joining the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), an elite club of countries that can trade fissile materials and nuclear technologies.
The list, prepared by the US Bureau of Industry and Security, declared that all seven companies were “reasonably believed to be involved, or to pose a significant risk of being or becoming involved, in activities contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the US”, Dawn online reported on Monday.
Overall, a total of 23 entities were added to the list that was published in the US Federal Register. The list also included 15 entities from South Sudan and one from Singapore.
All 23 entities now face tough export control measures which could prevent them from conducting international trade.
Among the seven Pakistani companies three were listed for “their involvement in the proliferation of unsafeguarded nuclear activities that were contrary to the national security and/or foreign policy interests of the US”.
Two firms were accused of procuring supplies for nuclear-related entities already on the list and the remaining two were accused of acting as fronts for listed entities.
There was also a Singapore-based company which the US bureau said was linked to one of the Pakistani firms.
The End-user Review Committee (ERC) of the US Department of Commerce said that Singapore-based Mushko Logistics Pvt. Ltd and Pakistan-baed Mushko Electronics Pvt. Ltd were added to the sanctions list on the grounds that these firms “procured items for several Pakistani entities on the Entity List”.
Another Pakistani firm, Solutions Engineering, was added to the list for “its involvement in the procurement of US-origin items on behalf of nuclear-related entities in Pakistan that were already on the ERC list”.
Three other Pakistani entities — Akhtar & Munir, Proficient Engineers and Pervaiz Commercial Trading Co. — were on the list over their “involvement in the proliferation of unsafeguarded nuclear activities contrary to the national security and/or foreign policy interests of the US”.
Marine Systems Pvt. Ltd. was added to the list for “assisting Pakistani entities in circumventing US restrictions” while Engineering and Commercial Services was added for “its role in supplying a Pakistani nuclear-related entity”.
The move will have a negative impact on Pakistan’s efforts to join the NSG which is a group of 48 countries that seek to prevent nuclear proliferation by controlling the export of materials, equipment and technology that can be used to manufacture nuclear weapons.
Pakistan applied for the NSG membership on May 2016. It says that NSG “should adopt a non-discriminatory, criteria-based approach for inducting new members”. Several countries including China and Turkey support Pakistan’s application.