FO concerned over illicit sale of radioactive material in India

Published August 31, 2021
A file photo of the building of the Foreign Office in Islamabad. — Suhail Yusuf/File
A file photo of the building of the Foreign Office in Islamabad. — Suhail Yusuf/File

ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office on Monday expressed concern over lax arrangements in India for security of nuclear and other radioactive materials, including the imported ones.

The concern was expressed after third instance of seizure of stolen radioactive material in India over the past four months.

Indian authorities had last week recovered four mineral-like rocks weighing 250.5gm, which are believed to be extremely expensive radioactive material Californium. The seized material, if original, is approximately valued at Indian Rs4,250 crore.

Earlier in May and June over 7kg and more than 6kg of uranium were recovered from unauthorised people in India in separate incidents.

“We have noted with serious concern yet another report of theft and illicit sale of radioactive material in India. In the latest incident, as per media reports, two persons were arrested for illegal possession of Californium which is a highly radioactive and toxic substance,” the FO spokesman said.

“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,” he added. He said that repeated incidents not only point to the possible existence of a nuclear black market, but also indicates the lax arrangements in India to secure imported SRS material.

Published in Dawn, August 31st, 2021

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