ISLAMABAD, (APP): Two Indians were among eight people arrested in Kathmandu for possessing uranium-like substances, which were brought from India to be sold illegally in Nepal, police said.
According to the Indian newspaper Deccan Herald, the police on a tip-off, arrested eight people after they recovered these substances from a car parked in the parking lot of a five-star hotel in Boudha, on the outskirts of Kathmandu.
The two Indians were identified as Upendra Kumar Mishra and Raju Thakur, both natives of Bihar, while the six others were all Nepal nationals, police said. The arrests were made as they were preparing to sell the valuable item for Rs 350 million per kg, the newspaper quoting the Press Trust of India said.
It said the police arrested Bhupendra and Nawaraj from the parked car, where the substance was hidden and six others were arrested on the basis of information furnished by them. Eight people have been arrested on charges of illegally trading in Uranium, according to Nepal Police headquarters sources. Authorities have also seized nine mobile phones from them.
“We have recovered some substances, which look like uranium. It will be sent to the laboratory to ascertain whether they are uranium,” Dinesh Mainali, Superintendent of Police from the Metropolitan Police Range said. The police have initiated a further investigation into the matter after taking the eight people under detention, the paper said.
In March 2021, four Nepalese nationals were arrested for possessing 2.5 kilograms of unprocessed uranium. One of the arrested claimed that her father-in-law brought it from India where he worked in a uranium mine some 20 years ago, police said.
The United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540 and the IAEA Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM) make it binding on states to ensure stringent measures to prevent nuclear material from falling into wrong hands.
Pakistan has been consistently voicing its serious concern over the theft and illicit sale of radioactive material in India and by its nationals abroad. The foreign office in a statement last year quoted media reports which spoke of the arrest of two persons for illegal possession of Californium – a highly radioactive and toxic substance.
“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,” the Foreign Office statement had said.
Earlier media reports had highlighted separate seizures in May and June 2021 of over 7 kg and more than 6 kg of Uranium from unauthorized persons in India.
“These repeated incidents raise serious concerns about the safety and security of nuclear and other radioactive materials in India, and the possible existence of a black market for such materials inside the country. It also indicates the lax arrangements inside India to secure imported SRS material,” the Foreign Office had said in its statement and urged a thorough investigation and adequate measures to prevent their recurrence. However, months have passed since the last incident was reported and India was yet to take any action to prevent the movement of such material.
An earlier APP report said the theft of over 200 kilograms of nuclear material over the last two decades in India poses a serious threat of nuclear terrorism, necessitating action by the global powers to address poor safety standards in the country.
According to StrafAsia, a London–based platform for analysis on issues related to Asia, safe and secure operations of nuclear installations and facilities have always been an important aspect of a country’s nuclear safety and security mechanism.
However, the increasing cases of nuclear-related incidents have indeed jeopardized India’s aspirations to become a de-jure member of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), a 48-nations body that controls global nuclear trade.
With such incidents, India’s position has been put in an awkward position with international pressure mounting over India’s poor safety standards. A leading US non-proliferation watchdog, Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) nuclear security index gave India the lowest ranking for its poor safety and security of nuclear material in http://its latest report.
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