Thursday February 29, 2024

Loose state control of uranium in India raises many questions

May 09, 2021

ISLAMABAD: The seizure of more than seven kilograms of natural uranium from two unauthorised persons in the Indian state of Maharashtra has raised many questions regarding the state's control over this highly sensitive radioactive material.

Uranium was recovered from two individuals in Maharashtra on May 5, the Bhabha Atomic Research Center of India confirmed the uranium seized was highly radioactive and pure.

Dozens of incidents of collective and individual uranium theft and smuggling have taken place in India on which several countries, including the United States and the Organization for the Prevention of Nuclear Terrorism, have expressed their concern.

Earlier, in 2016, Indian police arrested two persons in the Thane area and recovered eight kilograms of raw uranium from their possession. According to experts, terrorists detonate radioactive material by combining it with any conventional weapon, which called “dirty bomb”.

Although the damage caused by a dirty bomb blast will not be as great as that of an atomic bomb, there will be potential for radiation and prolonged contamination in and around the site of the bombing.

Experts say the radioactive material used in the “dirty bomb” is not very pure uranium, but can be obtained from any radioactive source, used in medicine or industry.

More than seven kilograms of natural uranium, used in low and high power nuclear reactors and worth Indian rupees 21 crore (PKR519 million), has been out of the Indian government's grasp, the situation is alarming for the world as well as the nuclear watchdogs.