Uranium discovered at UK airport, links to Iran investigated by police: report

Uranium discovered at UK airport, links to Iran investigated by police: report

Uranium discovered at UK airport, links to Iran investigated by police: report

British police found a small amount of uranium in a package at London’s Heathrow Airport last month.

“While the uranium has been discovered and has reportedly caused no harm to the public, it is never good to hear of fissile material from a nuclear-armed state passing through a civilian airport reportedly destined for a business run by someone seeking nuclear weapons and a terror-exporting state,” Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior fellow specializing in Iranian security and policy issues at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Fox News Digital.

“Loose and undetected fissile material is one of the most serious and least understood international security threats,” Taleblu said. “The British public should seek a full account of the chain of custody for the uranium and the British Government’s assessment of the intent to ship.”

The city’s anti-terror command unit stressed that the amount detected on December 29 was small and classified as non-hazardous. The Sun newspaper first reported that the material originated in Pakistan and was intended for Iranians residing in the UK.

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Airport security forces discovered the material in a shipment of scrap metal, raising concerns that whoever shipped the material may have intended to hide it. However, others suggested that the material may have come about as a result of contamination and “poor handling”.

Heathrow Terminal 5 is an airport terminal at Heathrow Airport in London.

Heathrow Terminal 5 is an airport terminal at Heathrow Airport in London.

Border Force agents found the shipment was unregistered and a source told The Sun authorities are trying to “trace everyone involved” but police have so far made no arrests.

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Richard Smith, head of London’s Counter Terrorism Command, said he was “relieved to understand that there was no threat to public health or public safety” and stressed that the screening operation had worked properly.

People stand near an arrivals board which displays a message warning users of Terminal 5 of industrial action by Border Force staff at Heathrow Airport, near London December 23, 2022.

People stand near an arrivals board which displays a message warning users of Terminal 5 of industrial action by Border Force staff at Heathrow Airport, near London December 23, 2022.
(Reuters/Peter Nicholls)

“The identified shipment contained a very small amount of contaminated material,” Smith said. “We are now conducting further investigations.”

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However, police may have focused investigations on an Iran-based company with British “rooms” where the material was supposed to be leaked to mysterious recipients, according to The Sun.

Iran has reportedly enriched uranium at its underground facility in Fordo to a purity of 60% — well below the 90% required for arming, but well above the agreed limit of 20% mandated by the 2015 nuclear deal .

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Colonel Hamish De Bretton-Gordon, a former British Defense Forces commander, told the BBC the incident “should not alarm the public”.

UK Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Steve Barclay said he hoped for more information “in due course” and that it was right that an inquiry “looks at all the issues”.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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