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US sanctions against the Minsk Wheel Tractor Plant


Minsk Wheeled Tractor Plant
Minsk Wheeled Tractor Plant Source: stp.by

On April 19, the US State Department imposed sanctions on the Minsk Wheel Tractor Plant (MZKT) for its role in assisting Pakistan's development of long-range ballistic missiles

In its statement, the State Department confirmed that the Minsk Wheel Tractor Plant has been supplying special vehicle chassis to Pakistan's National Defense Complex for use in its launch equipment. 

Alongside the Minsk Wheel Tractor Plant, three Chinese enterprises were also included in the list of American sanctions, as they were accused of transferring missile equipment to Pakistan.

MZKT has already been subject to EU sanctions since December 2020 for human rights violations, as well as US sanctions since 2022 for supporting the Russian intervention of the Lukashenko regime in Ukraine. 

Now, additional sanctions have been imposed on MZKT for its involvement in the transfer of products used in Pakistan's ballistic missile development program.

Background material on the 30th anniversary of Belarusian-Pakistani relations reveals that Belarusian exports to Pakistan increased by 1.5 times in 2023 compared to 2022. The document highlights the recent "strengthening of military cooperation" between Belarus and Pakistan.

The process of assembling tractors for Russian nuclear missiles
The process of assembling tractors for Russian nuclear missiles. Source: rumyantsevphoto.livejournal.com

"These entities engaged in activities or transactions that materially facilitated, or created a risk of materially facilitating, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or their means of delivery," stated the US State Department.

In addition to MZKT, the following Chinese companies have also been subjected to sanctions:

  • Xi'an Longde Technology Development Company Limited

  • Tianjin Creative Source International Trade Co. Ltd.

  • Granpect Co. Ltd.

All three companies are based in China.

Washington believes that these companies, along with MZKT, supplied products to Islamabad “for Pakistan's ballistic missile program, including its long-range missile program”. The State Department asserts that they participated in activities or transactions that “materially facilitated or created a risk of materially facilitating the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or their means of delivery”.

The imposition of these sanctions aims to strengthen the non-proliferation regime of weapons of mass destruction, to which the United States is committed, according to the State Department.

MZKT specializes in the production of on-road and off-road heavy-duty vehicles, wheeled chassis with high cross-country ability and load-carrying capacity, as well as vehicles of other categories. As of July 2019, 84% of the company's products were exported.

Under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Pakistan is prohibited from possessing such weapons. However, Pakistan did not sign the treaty and conducted its first nuclear tests in 1998. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), as of January 2023, Pakistan possessed 170 nuclear warheads on various carriers.

Lukashenko's actions represent a new level of violation of international rules and obligations, as he becomes involved in activities that pose a potential threat of weapons of mass destruction proliferation. These actions have been officially documented. 

The primary objective should be to strengthen the regime of non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. This goal can be achieved either by depriving Lukashenko of the opportunity to engage in such activities or by removing him from power in Belarus.

 

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