Pakistan Rejects Links to Uranium-Contaminated Cargo Seized at London Airport

Pakistan’s government has rejected British media reports that a uranium-contaminated cargo shipment seized at London’s Heathrow Airport originated from the South Asian nation.  

“No information to this effect has been shared with us officially. We are confident that the reports are not factual,” Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokeswomen Mumtaz Zahra Baloch told VOA on Thursday.

British police said in a statement earlier this week they had detected “a very small amount of contaminated material after routine screening within a package incoming to the UK” on December 29.  

Police have reported no arrests in connection with the incident.

British tabloid The Sun, which first reported the incident, said the shipment was destined for Iranian nationals in the United Kingdom, originated from Pakistan and arrived on a flight from Oman.  

Richard Smith, head of London police’s Counter Terrorism Command, noted on Wednesday that the amount of radioactive substance was extremely small and posed no threat to public health or public safety.  

Smith added that further inquiries into the incident were underway.  

“We will, of course, follow every avenue to see what the background of this was and satisfy ourselves that there’s no further threat,” he said.

Low-enriched uranium can be used to fuel civilian power generation plants. Its highly enriched form is a key ingredient in nuclear weapons.

Pakistan is a declared nuclear weapons state and runs several China-built civilian nuclear power generation plants.  

Islamabad maintains it has developed a “robust” security and safety system for its nuclear development programs.   

Syed Muhammad Ali, a Pakistani author of several books and research publications on nuclear issues, described as “very irresponsible” media outlets for naming Pakistan without independent and technical investigations.  

“It is technically not possible to verify the origin of any radioactive material unless the investigators already have samples of that material from the same source, which is obviously not the case or possible for any UK department to have record or access to the samples of radioactive sources of the countries, which are being alleged as involved,” Ali said.  

He noted that the IAEA is the only institution with the technical capacity and mandate to independently verify such incidents.  

 

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