UK investigates after uranium found hidden in package seized at London airport

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Jan. 11 (UPI) — An investigation is underway into a package that was seized at a London airport containing a “small” amount of uranium.

The package was identified by Border Force officers during routine scanning at Heathrow Airport on Dec. 29, and investigators wonder why the package was concealed. It was sent from Pakistan to be delivered to an Iranian-owned business in the United Kingdom.

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Metropolitan Police said there is no threat to the public and the amount of uranium was “very small.”

Uranium is a nuclear material that, when enriched, can be used to make a nuclear bomb. It was found in bars encased in a package containing scrap metal. Investigators are working to determine if the uranium was intentionally concealed in the shipment or if it is a result of poor handling.

United Kingdom counter-terrorism police are investigating the incident to determine if the uranium shipment was meant for constructing a dirty bomb at its destined site. No arrests have been made.

“It’s very clear that the comprehensive surveillance network that we have in place in this country, run by the security services, the police and others, has actually worked and picked up potentially a very dangerous containment that could provide a threat,” said Col. Hamish de Bretton-Gordon in an interview with BBC Radio.

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“”If it is for nefarious reasons, for bad reasons, to create mayhem by Iranians or some sort of Russian proxy, then that is an area of concern.”

The colonel said there is no reason for public concern at this point.

Commander Richard Smith of the Metropolitan Police confirmed that the investigation has not linked the uranium to any direct threat, The Guardian reports.

“As the public would expect, however, we will continue to follow up on all available lines of inquiry to ensure this is definitely the case,” Smith said.

In November, Iran reported that it is increasing its production of enriched uranium, defying agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Multiple nuclear plants have reached an enrichment level of 60% purity which is inching the nation closer toward developing a nuclear bomb. Uranium must be 90% pure to be viable for a nuclear bomb.