Unchecked illicit sale of radioactive material in India agonizes Pakistan

Police in India have arrested seven people and seized 6.4kg of uranium from their possession, Indian media reported on Friday. — Reuters/FileNew Delhi, August 31 (KMS): Indian authorities arrested two persons in Kolkata, this week, for illegally possessing highly radioactive Californium worth over $573 million, Crime Investigation Department has revealed. The revelation raised alarm bells in the world, particularly in the neighboring countries including Pakistan.

According to Kashmir Media Service, CTD officers acting on a tip-off arrested the two persons with four pieces of radioactive material in the city, media reports said.

Interestingly, this is the third incident of illegal sale of highly radioactive material in India in the past four months. Earlier media had highlighted separate seizures in May and June 2021 of over 7 kilogram and more than 6 kilogram of Uranium from unauthorized persons in India.

These repeated incidents have raised serious concerns about the safety and security of nuclear and other radioactive materials in India, and the possible existence of a black market for such materials inside the country.

While reacting to the reports on theft of radioactive material, Pakistan Foreign Office Spokesperson in a statement in Islamabad expressed serious concern over yet another incident in India.

“It is a matter of grave concern for the international community that an extremely rare Sealed Radioactive Source (SRS) material like Californium could be stolen. As in the previous cases, the arrested individuals apparently got hold of the radioactive material by purchasing it from inside India,” the Spokesperson added.

Pakistan reiterated its call for a thorough investigation and adequate measures to prevent their recurrence, the press statement said.