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Tuesday January 31, 2023

Reports about uranium package originating from Pakistan 'not factual': FO

A small quantity of uranium was seized in a package at London's Heathrow Airport on December 29

By Web Desk
January 12, 2023
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, (MOFA) in Islamabad.— Radio Pakistan
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, (MOFA) in Islamabad.— Radio Pakistan 

The Foreign Office (FO) on Thursday denied British media reports regarding the uranium package seized at London’s Heathrow Airport originating from Pakistan, terming them “not factual”.

British police said in a statement on Wednesday that a small quantity of uranium was seized in a package at Heathrow Airport on December 29, adding that it did not appear to be linked to any direct danger nor any public health hazard.

Richard Smith, head of London police's Counter Terrorism Command, said that the amount of radioactive material was insignificant and experts evaluated it as posing no threat.

Later, a report in The Sun claimed that the package originated from Pakistan before arriving aboard an Oman Air passenger jet from Muscat. The shipment was addressed to an Iranian firm in the UK, the report read.

Responding to media queries on the subject, FO Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said, “We have seen the media reports. We are confident that the reports are not factual”.

She added that the UK authorities have shared no details on the matter with them as of now.

‘No direct threat’

Speaking to The News, a spokesman of Scotland Yard said: “We can confirm officers from the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command were contacted by Border Force colleagues at Heathrow after a very small amount of contaminated material was identified after routine screening within a package incoming to the UK on 29 December 2022.”

Commander Richard Smith said that the radioactive material found at the airport posed no threat to the public. He added that their investigation remains ongoing; however, it does not appear to be linked to any direct threat so far.

The official added that the agency will continue to follow up on all available lines of enquiry to ensure this is definitely the case.

Richard added, “no arrests have been made at this time and officers continue to work with partner agencies to fully investigate this matter and ensure there is no risk to the public. Border Force agents isolated the shipment in a radioactive room and, upon determining it was uranium, called in counter-terror police.”

A former commander of the UK’s nuclear defence regiment, Hamish De Bretton-Gordon, said: “Uranium can give off very high levels of poisonous radiation. It could be used in a dirty bomb. The good news is the system worked and it has been interdicted.”