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Pakistan raises concern over seizure of uranium in India

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs have issued a statement: Source: MOFA

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has taken notice of the seizure of natural uranium in India which has raised concerns over the illegal sale of the radioactive material in the country.

While responding to media queries, the Foreign Office spokesperson said “We have noted with serious concern the reports about seizure of more than 7 Kg natural uranium from unauthorised persons in India.”

The spokesperson said the security of nuclear materials should be the top priority for all countries. He called for a thorough investigation into the matter as to how such sizeable quantity of uranium could become available outside any state control and identify the gaps which made this possible.

The development come after Indian police have arrested two men for illegally possessing uranium which could potentially be used by the terrorists to make nuclear explosives. The police seized over seven kilograms of natural uranium from the two men arrested in the western Maharashtra state.

According to the anti-terrorism squad in Maharashtra, the confiscated material is worth around $2.9 million and an investigation into the case was underway.

The revelation has raised concerns about India emerged as a potential hotspot in illegal trade of nuclear technology and materials vital for a malicious nuclear supply chain for state and non-state actors.

READ MORE: Two held for possessing 7kg uranium in India’s Maharashtra

According to Indian media, the seized material was sent to Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) for analysis which reported that the substance was natural uranium and “highly radioactive and dangerous to human life.”

The ATS team had received information that the accused were searching for a potential buyer to sell the huge quantity to uranium. Accordingly, a trap was laid and the two were arrested. The arrested men have been identified as Jigar Jayesh Pandya and Abu Tahir Afzal Hussain Choudhary.

Acting on specific information, the Nagpada unit of the ATS had apprehended a 27-year-old Thane resident, Jigar Pandya, with some small pieces of the valuable substance on February 14 this year, he said.

The ATS subsequently nabbed Choudhary from the premises of Kurla Scrap Association in Mankhurd and seized 7.1 kg of natural uranium from his possession. The accused reportedly got the Uranium tested from a private laboratory to check its purity.  The ATS said officials are questioning the arrested men to trace further links.

This is the second time in India that such a highly radioactive substance has been seized by police in recent years. In 2016, police seized almost 9kg of depleted uranium in the Thane area of Maharashtra.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is yet to investigate how proliferation of radioactive substances is taking place from India and how large is the black market of highly explosive substances.

The smuggling of radioactive substances from India has raised concerns if terrorist organisations like AQIS, ISIS or some non-state actors could buy it from Indian nuclear black market.

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