ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Pakistan has demanded a thorough investigation into the reports of illegal uranium trade in India, after seven more people were arrested for possessing radioactive material.
The statement comes after police in Indian Jharkhand state on Thursday arrested seven people for possessing and planning to sell ‘mineral uranium’ in the black market, according to The Indian Express.
“We have seen the reports about yet another incident of attempted illegal sale of 6 kg of Uranium in India,” said Foreign Office spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri in a statement on Friday.
The similar incident involving 7 kg of Uranium in the Indian state of Maharashtra last month and other such reports in the past are a matter of deep concern as they point to lax controls, poor regulatory and enforcement mechanisms, as well as possible existence of a black market for nuclear materials inside India, he added.
“The United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540 and the IAEA Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM) make it binding on states to ensure stringent measures to prevent nuclear material from falling into wrong hands,” read the FO communiqué. Pakistan reiterated its call for thorough investigation of such incidents and measures for strengthening the security of nuclear materials to prevent their diversion.
“It is equally important to ascertain the intent and ultimate use of the attempted Uranium sale given its relevance to international peace and security as well as the sanctity of global non-proliferation regime.”
It is the third time in India that such a highly radioactive substance has been seized by police in recent years. In 2016, police seized almost 9 kg (19.8 lbs) of depleted uranium in the Thane area of Maharashtra. Uranium is used in several areas, including nuclear explosives and medical techniques.
Meanwhile, Indian police in the state of Jharkhand arrested seven people for having "mineral uranium" in their possession and for their plans to sell it in the black market, The Indian Express reported.
The publication said that law enforcement authorities of the Indian state seized 6.4kg of what they believe is uranium from two suspects and are on the hunt for the suspect from whom they had procured the material.
“All the accused were arrested from the Bokaro district of Jharkhand and were booked under IPC Sections 414 (Whoever voluntarily assists in concealing or disposing of or making away with property which he knows or has reason to believe to be stolen property), 120B (criminal conspiracy), 34 (common intention) and under various sections of Atomic Energy Act,” reported the publication.
“Seven people were arrested for possessing and planning to sell a mineral, which is suspected to be uranium after we received a tip. We are further investigating the case and the mineral is sent to the lab to check its veracity,” Superintendent of Police Chandan Jha was quoted by the Indian Express as saying.
But the publication reported that a press release issued by the arresting police force mentioned that the mineral that was seized was uranium.
Separately, the FIR submitted to the court showed that the police had taken action after receiving a "tip" on June 2 that five people — Deepak Mahato, Pankaj Kumar, Mahabir Mahato, M Sharma, Krishna Kant — were gathering to sell uranium in the black market.
It also said that the police took action as they were informed that if they arrest the five suspects, they will be able to uncover the operation.
“Seeing police, Deepak Mahato and others, who were discussing something, started dispersing. They were caught by force after the area was cordoned. They said that they all were in touch with one Baapi Chandra, who had uranium with him, and that they had gathered in order to find prospective buyers. All smartphones from these five have been seized,” stated the FIR.
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