British police probe uranium package seized at Heathrow Airport

Small amount of nuclear element reportedly found in shipment of scrap metal that originated in Pakistan and arrived on flight from Oman, addressed to Iranians in UK

Illustrative: A passenger arrives from a flight at Terminal 5 of Heathrow Airport in London, August 2, 2021. (Matt Dunham/AP)
Illustrative: A passenger arrives from a flight at Terminal 5 of Heathrow Airport in London, August 2, 2021. (Matt Dunham/AP)

British police said Tuesday they had opened an investigation into a package containing uranium that was seized at London’s Heathrow Airport.

The package was discovered by border agents during a routine search on December 29, police said.

“We can confirm officers from the Met’s counter-terrorism command were contacted by Border Force colleagues at Heathrow after a very small amount of contaminated material was identified after routine screening within a package incoming to the UK on 29 December 2022,” the Metropolitan Police said in a statement.

A naturally occurring metal element, uranium can have nuclear uses if refined to make it radioactive.

The package had originated in Pakistan and arrived on a flight from Oman, according to The Sun newspaper, which first reported the story. It was destined for Iranian nationals living in the UK, the report said. Special scanners detected the material as it was being moved to a freight shed.

The uranium was found in a shipment of scrap metal and investigators were looking into whether it was the result of “poor handling” in Pakistan, the BBC reported.

“I want to reassure the public that the amount of contaminated material was extremely small and has been assessed by experts as posing no threat to the public,” police commander Richard Smith said in a statement to British media.

“Although our investigation remains ongoing, from our inquiries so far, it does not appear to be linked to any direct threat,” Smith said.

No arrests have been made so far. According to The Sun, police are thought to be focusing on an Iran-based firm that has premises in the UK where the package was supposed to be delivered.

“We do not comment on live investigations,” the Home Office said in a statement.

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