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Uranium detected at British airport and Iran links being investigated by police: report

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

“While uranium was detected and supposedly caused no harm to the public, it is never good to hear about fissile material from a nuclear weapons state transiting through a civilian airport that is supposedly going to a business run by someone from a terrorist organization and pursuit of nuclear weapons. -exporting state,” Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior fellow focusing on Iranian political and security issues at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Fox News Digital.

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

The city’s Counterterrorism Command unit emphasized that the amount detected on Dec. 29 was small and assessed as not risky. The Sun newspaper first reported that the material came from Pakistan and was aimed at Iranians residing in the UK.

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Airport security detected the material in a scrap shipment, raising concerns that whoever shipped the material may have intended to hide it. However, others have suggested that the material could have resulted from contamination and “poor handling”.

Heathrow Terminal 5 is a terminal at London Heathrow Airport.

Heathrow Terminal 5 is a terminal at London Heathrow Airport.

Border Force agents noted that the shipment was unregistered and a source told The Sun that authorities were rushing to “track down everyone involved”, but police had so far not made any arrests.

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

People stand near an arrivals board displaying a message alerting Terminal 5 users to the industrial action by Border Force staff, at Heathrow Airport, near London, on December 23, 2022.

People stand near an arrivals board displaying a message alerting Terminal 5 users to the industrial action by Border Force staff, at Heathrow Airport, near London, on December 23, 2022.
(Reuters/Peter Nicholls)

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

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However, the police may have focused their investigations on a company based in Iran with British “premises”, where the material was supposed to pass to mysterious recipients, according to The Sun.

A member of the London Met Police stands guard outside Westminster Abbey.

A member of the London Met Police stands guard outside Westminster Abbey.
(BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)

“The fact that British authorities were able to detect and interdict the shipment is testament to their dedication to fighting terrorism,” Simone Ledeen, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East, told Fox News Digital. “These mechanisms would not be in place without it.”

“At the same time, no one should slow down an attempt to ship uranium in any quantity from Pakistan to an Iranian entity in the UK – the evil connections between Pakistan and Iran are too well established to be flexible.”

Iran is said to have enriched uranium to 60% purity at its underground Fordow facility – well below the 90% required for weaponization, but well above the agreed 20% limit as required by the 2015 nuclear deal.

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

British Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Steve Barclay said he expected more information “in due course” and that an investigation “looks into all the issues”.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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