Islamabad calls for "thorough investigation" after Indian police arrested two men in western Maharashtra state for illegally possessing seven kilogrammes of highly radioactive substance.
Pakistan has called for a "thorough investigation" after Indian authorities recovered more than seven kilogrammes of highly radioactive uranium in western Maharashtra state.
"We have noted with serious concern reports about seizure of more than 7 Kg natural uranium from unauthorised persons in India," Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri, said on Saturday.
"Security of nuclear materials should be the top priority for all countries, and there is a need for thorough investigation of the matter," the statement posted on Twitter added.
Pakistan raised the issue after Indian police arrested two men earlier this week for "illegally possessing" the alarming amounts of the radioactive substance.
According to India's anti-terrorism squad, the confiscated material is worth around $2.9 million and an investigation into the case is under way.
We have noted with serious concern reports about seizure of more than 7 Kg natural uranium from unauthorised persons in #India. Security of nuclear materials should be the top priority for all countries, and there is a need for thorough investigation of the matter.— Spokesperson 🇵🇰 MoFA (@ForeignOfficePk) May 8, 2021
Police said a case was registered on Wednesday after a report from the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in Mumbai confirmed the seized material is highly radioactive.
"A report was received that the substance is natural uranium. It's highly radioactive and dangerous to human life," Maharashtra police said.
The police also said they "received information that one person identified as Jigar Pandya was going to illegally sell pieces of uranium substance, [and] a trap was laid and he was arrested."
Further investigation into the case leads to the second suspects arrest who was identified as Abu Tahir, and said to have given Pandya the pieces of uranium.
Police said a huge quantity of substance was recovered when Tahir was apprehended.
For years India has exploited Pakistan's nuclear proliferation image but not once has there been any incident reported about the leakage. The incident of over 7 kg natural uranium worth ₹21.30 crore being seized from Maharashtra cannot be swept under the carpet. Like India..— Fidato (@tequieremos) May 7, 2021
A police official told Anadolu Agency on the condition of anonymity that the accused are being questioned to know the source of the seized material and where it would be sent.
According to local news agency Press Trust of India, the two accused appeared before a local court on Wednesday which remanded them in the custody of the anti-terrorism squad till May 12.
It is extremely dangerous for large quantities of uranium to be exported from the general public in India. The international community, including the IAEA, should take note. @iaeaorg— Muhammed Faisal (@Intl_Mediatior) May 8, 2021
Second instance of uranium seizure
It 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 9 kg of depleted uranium in the Thane area of Maharashtra.
Uranium is used in several areas, including nuclear explosives and medical techniques.
Smuggling of #uranium is an alarming development in #India as the Police arrests suspects with 7KG of Uranium. Is India failing to protect its Uranium stockpiles and how much of this dangerous mater is still on the Indian black market? @iaeaorg— Shahid Raza (@schaheid) May 7, 2021