Man arrested over uranium found at Heathrow

Man arrested over uranium found at Heathrow

A man has been arrested under terrorism laws after traces of uranium were found in a cargo package at Heathrow Airport, police said.

Border Force officers found the radioactive material on December 29, along with a shipment of scrap that the Sun newspaper said had come from Pakistan and was destined for Iranians in the UK.

Cheshire Police arrested the man, in his 60s, under Section 9 of the Terrorism Act on Saturday.

He was released on bail until April.

The uranium was found during inspections at Heathrow (Peter Powell/PA)

Commander Richard Smith, who heads the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, said: “I want to make it clear that despite this arrest and from what we currently know, this incident still does not appear to involve a direct threat to the public.

“However, investigators are continuing their investigation to ensure this is definitely the case.”

Officials said they found no other dangerous material at the Cheshire address, but the offense the man is accused of involves making or possessing radioactive material.

A Met spokesman said the uranium was found during a “routine screening” at Heathrow.

Mr Smith added: “The discovery of a very small amount of uranium in a package at Heathrow Airport is clearly of concern but demonstrates the effectiveness of the processes and controls put in place with our partners to detect this type of material.

“Our priority since the beginning of our investigation has been to ensure that there is no direct threat to the public involved. To that end, we are pursuing every possible line of inquiry at our disposal that led us to make this arrest over the weekend.”

Colonel Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, a chemical and biological weapons expert and former head of Britain’s nuclear defense regiment, told BBC Radio 4 Today on Wednesday that people should be reassured that it has been spotted.

He said: “It is very clear that the extensive surveillance network that we have in this country, run by the security services, the police and others, is indeed working and may have picked up some very dangerous containment that could pose a threat.

“In this country, I think people should be pretty reassured that we’re not going to see dirty bombs made out of this type of material.”

When asked what might have happened to the metal, he said: “If it’s for nefarious reasons, for bad reasons, to create chaos by Iranians or some sort of Russian proxies, then that’s an area of ​​concern.

“But I think the most important thing is that there are people who are paying attention and this should not unduly worry the public.”

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