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July 26, 1999
Britain seizes Pak-bound nuke material
The British customs have intercepted vital materials destined for Pakistan's nuclear weapons programme, according to a British Sunday newspaper.
Customs investigators have 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 west Asia.
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 that it was intended for military use and therefore 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 commercial 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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