The Indian police have arrested two men for illegally possessing the highly radioactive natural uranium which could potentially be used by terrorists to make nuclear explosives.
The police seized over seven kilograms of natural uranium from the two men arrested in the western Maharashtra state.
According to the anti-terrorism squad in Maharashtra, the confiscated material is worth around $2.9 million and an investigation into the case was underway.
The revelation has raised concerns about India emerged as a potential hotspot in illegal trade of nuclear technology and materials vital for a malicious nuclear supply chain for state and non-state actors.
According to Indian media, the seized material was sent to Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) for analysis which reported that the substance was natural uranium and “highly radioactive and dangerous to human life.”
The ATS team had received information that the accused were searching for a potential buyer to sell the huge quantity to uranium. Accordingly, a trap was laid and the two were arrested.
India needs to answer the world how can the state allow its street criminals to posses uranium. Someone would have used this for terrorism & India would have claimed it was Pakistan. The truth has been exposed. The world must ask India to answer. https://t.co/3NMLQM20r9
— Fakhr-e-Alam (@falamb3) May 7, 2021
The arrested men have been identified as Jigar Jayesh Pandya and Abu Tahir Afzal Hussain Choudhary.
Acting on specific information, the Nagpada unit of the ATS had apprehended a 27-year-old Thane resident, Jigar Pandya, with some small pieces of the valuable substance on February 14 this year, he said.
The ATS subsequently nabbed Choudhary from the premises of Kurla Scrap Association in Mankhurd and seized 7.100 kg of natural uranium from his possession.
It is believed that the accused got their Uranium tested from a private laboratory to check its purity. This also proves the unchecked trade of the highly radioactive materials and its potential threats to the peace in the region.
The ATS said that officials are questioning the arrested men to trace further links.
Uranium in the ecomical capital of country. ७.१ kg worth २२ crore in nagpada . This is enough to make lots of nuclear weapons and half of an atom bomb too. Well don't know who is behind this uranium but central agency @NIA_India @cbic_india @narcoticsbureau @HMOIndia @NSAGov
— swapnil choudhari (@swapnIIIIL1) May 7, 2021
According to Anadolu Agency, it was the second time in India that such a highly radioactive substance has been seized by police in recent years.
In 2016, police seized almost 9kg of depleted uranium in the Thane area of Maharashtra.
At least 11 states in India have uranium reserves with Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand and Meghalaya recording the largest reserves of radioactive material.
Imagine, 7.1kilos of highly radio active stolen uranium worth Rs 30 crores was on sale in India, pedalled by Jayesh Pandya, a Modi acolyte, who heads the Indian nuclear mafia. The IAEA owes the world an explanation. The UNSC must ask for an investigation.
— Zafar Hilaly (@ZafarHilaly) May 7, 2021
Former Pakistani diplomat Zafar Hilali said “Imagine, 7.1kilos of highly radioactive stolen uranium worth Rs 30 crores was on sale in India, pedalled by Jayesh Pandya, a Modi acolyte, who heads the Indian nuclear mafia.”
He said the IAEA owed the world an explanation and the UNSC must ask for an investigation.
The International Atomic Energy Agency is yet to investigate how proliferation of radioactive substances is taking place from India and how big is the black market of highly explosive substances.
The smuggling of radioactive substances from India has raised concerns if a number of terrorist organizations like RSS, AQIS, ISIS or some state actors could buy it from Indian nuclear black market to make dirty bombs.