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'Uranium-tainted cargo not ours': Pak denies package found at Heathrow Airport came from Karachi

Pakistan has rejected reports in British media claiming a uranium-tainted cargo package, which landed at London's Heathrow Airport Terminal 4 via Oman Air passenger flight WY 101 on December 29, originated from Karachi.

Uranium tainted cargo not ours Pakistan denies package found at Heathrow Airport came from Karachi snt
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First Published Jan 12, 2023, 4:44 PM IST

Pakistan denied on Thursday that a uranium-tainted cargo package that arrived at London's Heathrow Airport last month was sent from Karachi, claiming that the information was "not factual."

Following the seizure of uranium-tainted goods by border agents at Heathrow Airport last month, British counter-terrorism police were reportedly conducting an investigation on Wednesday, according to the BBC.

The uranium came from Pakistan, according to The Sun tabloid, which broke the story and added that it was discovered in a consignment of scrap metal.

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Responding to the reports, a top Pakistani official said they were "not factual", adding that no information had been shared by the UK with Pakistan officially. 

"No information to this effect has been shared with us officially. We are confident that the reports are not factual," Foreign Office Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra was quoted as saying by the Dawn newspaper on Thursday.

According to Pakistani officials, the shipment did not originate in Pakistan, as is being claimed by British media, it said. 

It has been discovered that the cargo package landed at Heathrow Airport Terminal 4 on passenger flight WY 101 of Oman Air, which touched down on December 29 in the evening. UK officials believe the box was checked in as cargo when the plane took off from Pakistan and made a stopover in Muscat, Oman.

Regular airport scanners recognised the package upon arrival, alerting Border Force authorities to examine the contents. The uranium in concern was embedded in metal bars, and the container contained scrap metal.

The cargo was reportedly being sent to Iranian citizens living in the UK, according to The Sun newspaper, while other media reports claimed it was going to an Iranian-owned company in London.

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In the UK, the Metropolitan Police said Border Force officials informed its counter-terrorism command unit after the package.

Speaking at the London Assembly Police and Crime Committee on Wednesday, Commander Richard Smith, head of the Met Police counter-terrorism command, said that police will "follow every avenue" to find out the circumstances in which it arrived in the UK and its intended purpose. 

He said there was no risk to public health, and that the "consignments that had been identified included a very small amount of contaminated material". 

Speaking to Sky News, former head of the British Army's chemical weapons unit, Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, said it was "a concern" that the material reached the UK all the way from Pakistan, the report said. 

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He added, however, that whatever the origin, the material "absolutely shouldn't be on a commercial airliner", it said.

Uranium is a radioactive metal found in rocks and is commonly used as fuel for nuclear power plants and reactors that power naval ships and submarines. It may also be used in nuclear weapons.

(With inputs from PTI)

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