Pakistan on Saturday expressed serious concern over illegal possession of a large quantity of uranium by two unauthorised persons in India and pointed to gaps in state control mechanisms there.
“We have noted with serious concern the reports about seizure of more than 7kg natural uranium from unauthorised persons in India,” Foreign Office Spokesman Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said.
Indian authorities had on Wednesday seized 7.1kg of natural uranium and arrested two persons — Jigar Pandya, 27, and Abu Tahir Afzal Husain Choudhary, 31 — in Nagpur. The seized uranium is worth $2.9 million.
It is believed that the uranium had been stolen or illegally mined. It was reportedly unprocessed as it had not been refined and converted to “yellow cake”.
It isn’t clear to whom did the two men want to sell it. It is believed that it could have been channelled to the international black market.
The very fact that some people stole or illegally mined uranium raises concerns about nuclear safety and security in India. It also indicates the possibility of a nuclear market existing in India that could be connected to international players.
“Security of nuclear materials should be the top priority for all countries,” Chaudhri said.
“There is a need for thorough investigation of the matter as to how such sizeable quantity of uranium could become available outside any state control and identify the gaps which made this possible,” he added.
Pakistan did not raise the matter with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, because it has been the government’s policy that security of nuclear material is a national responsibility.
However, India should report this incident to the IAEA’s Incident and Tracking Data Base mechanism as the uranium could have been trafficked to non-state or state actors or handed over to other rackets.
Copyright: Dawn/Asia News Network