Pakistan demands probe into 'uranium black market' in India

Reaction comes after seven people arrested for possessing and planning to sell ‘mineral uranium’ in Jharkhand state


News Desk June 04, 2021
Foreign Office Spokesman Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri. PHOTO: APP/FILE

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.

Police said that they seized 6.4 kg of ‘uranium mineral’ from two of the accused. According to the court records and the FIR, a senior police officer in Bokaro received a ‘tip’ on June 2 that five people – Deepak Mahato, Pankaj Kumar, Mahabir Mahato, M Sharma, and Krishna Kant – had ‘gathered together’ and were planning to ‘illegally sell prohibited mineral uranium in the black market’.

“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 anti-terrorism squad in India's Maharashtra state said last month that the confiscated material is worth around $2.9 million and an investigation into the case was under way.

Also read: Pakistan expresses concern over uranium seizure in India

“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.

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