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Britain seizes Pakistani nuclear materials - paper

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    Britain seizes Pakistani nuclear materials - paper



    July 24, 1999
    Web posted at: 5:31 PM EDT (2131 GMT)

    LONDON (Reuters) -- British customs have
    intercepted vital materials destined for
    Pakistan's nuclear weapons programme,
    according to a British Sunday newspaper.

    Customs investigators seized up to 20 tonnes of key components which can
    be used in the manufacture of atomic weapons, the Sunday Express said.

    British Customs and Excise officials could not immediately be reached for
    comment.

    The cargo was tracked from the United States to Thamesport container
    terminal on the Isle of Grain in Kent, southeastern England, the newspaper
    said.

    It was unloaded, inspected and confiscated before it could be transferred to
    a ship bound for the Middle East.

    Documents accompanying the shipment purported to show it was destined
    for Dubai but the Sunday Express quoted intelligence sources as saying they
    believed its ultimate destination was the Pakistani city of Lahore.

    The sources were quoted as saying the shipment had been compiled from
    different points within the United States.

    The shipment coincided with a period of heightened tension between India
    and Pakistan over the disputed territory of Kashmir. Both countries held
    successful nuclear tests last year.

    Customs officers seized the cargo because of suspicions it was intended for
    military use and threfore required an export licence, the Sunday Express
    said.

    The paper quoted nuclear weapons experts as saying the material was of
    such a high grade that it was much more likely to be used for military rather
    than commerical purposes.

    Three British-based Pakistanis were arrested last week in connection with
    the shipment, which had been seized three weeks earlier, the Sunday
    Express said. They were later released on bail without being charged.

    At least part of the cargo contained high grade aluminium commonly used in
    making nuclear weapons, the newspaper said.


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