Frequent incidents of uranium theft in India pose nuclear terrorism threat


Islamabad, February 22 (KMS): Frequent incidents of uranium theft in India pose threats of nuclear terrorism as over 200 kilograms of nuclear material have been stolen during the past two decades in India while 2.5 kilograms of unprocessed uranium were caught from two Indian nationals in Nepal just a few days ago.

Experts on nuclear safeguards have urged the International Atomic Energy Agency to place strict surveillance system over radio-active materials in India.

The alarm is called for also because one of the arrested persons with uranium substance from Nepal recently claimed that her father-in-law had “brought the material from India, where he worked in a uranium mine.”

The experts asked whether Indian and western media would have remained silent had someone arrested elsewhere with radioactive materials, so to speak Pakistan.

In comparison to Pakistan where no single such incident took place, at least 20 incidents of nuclear material theft and lost were reported in India from 1994 to 2021. This indicates that India has emerged as a potential hotspot in illegal trade of N-technology and materials, the experts said.

* In November 1994, Meghalaya Police seized 2.5 kg of uranium from a gang of four smugglers in the Domiasiat region.

* In June 1998 Police in the Indian state of West Bengal, arrested an opposition politician who they say was carrying more than 100 kilograms of uranium.

* In July 1998, the CBI unearthed a major racket in theft of uranium in Tamil Nadu, with the seizure of over eight kg of the nuclear material. In August 2001, police in the Indian state of West Bengal arrested two men with more than 200 grams of semi-processed uranium.

* In 2003, Indian security forces caught a group in a village on the Bangladesh border with 225 grams of milled uranium.

* In December 2006, a container packed with radioactive material was stolen from a fortified research facility in eastern India.

* In 2008, another criminal gang was caught attempting to smuggle low-grade uranium, capable of being used in a primitive radiation-dispersal device, from one of India’s state-owned mines across the border to Nepal.

* The same year another group was caught moving an illicit stock of uranium over the border to Bangladesh, the gang having been assisted by

* In 2009, a nuclear reactor employee in southwest India deliberately poisoned dozens of his colleagues with a radioactive isotope, taking advantage of numerous gaps in plant security, according to an internal government report seen by the Center.

* In 2013, leftist guerillas in northeast India illegally obtained uranium ore from a government-run milling complex in northeast India and strapped it to high explosives to make a crude bomb before being caught by police, according to an inspector involved in the case.

* In December 2015, the Centre for Public Integrity had reported an incident at the residential complex adjacent to the Madras Atomic Power Station, to draw global attention to the security hazards and breaches around the Indian nuclear establishments; the incident involved Head Constable Vijay Singh who used official weapons to kill three fellow officers.

* In December 2016, around 9 kg of radioactive uranium was seized from two persons in Thane

* As recently as in early 2018 a uranium smuggling racket was busted by the Kolkata police with one kilogram of radioactive material. The smugglers were reportedly trying to sell uranium worth about $440,000.

* On June 3, 2021, police arrested seven people and seized 6.4 kilogrammes of uranium from their possession in the eastern state of Jharkhand in Bokaro district.

On February 15, 2022, two Indians were among eight persons arrested in Kathmandu for possessing uranium-like substances, which were brought from India to be sold illegally in Nepal.

Besides, many other incidents of uranium theft have been reported in India, but the international community is keeping mum on such dangerous incidents.

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