Among accounts of the discovery of a small amount of uranium at London’s Heathrow Airport was a statement that it was heading to a UK-based Iranian business.
While Commander Richard Smith of the Metropolitan Police said the small amount of contaminated material discovered December 29 was “assessed by experts as posing no threat to the public,” British tabloids by January 10 splashed headlines on ‘Terror Alert’ and ‘Nuke Plot.’Some recalled a 2003 warning from then head of British MI5 intelligence service Eliza Manningham-Buller of a possible ‘dirty bomb’ attack by ‘terrorists’ including radioactive material in a conventional explosive device.
While Smith said the police would “continue to follow up on all available lines of inquiry,” he wanted to “reassure the public that the amount of contaminated material was extremely small.” A police spokesman said Border Force officers had detected it with “routine screening” and had summoned the Metropolitan Police’s Counter-Terrorism Command.
The Daily Mirror reported Wednesday that the uranium was in a shipment of scrap metal, with police investigating the possibility of “poor handling.” The Sun reported the “deadly shipment” was “destined for Iranian nationals in the UK, originated in Pakistan and arrived on a slight from Oman.”
While a ‘source’ told the Sun and the Daily Express that “the race is on to trace everyone involved,” various newspapers agreed that nearly two weeks after the shipment was found, no arrests had been made. Most reports mentioned that the metal was found on a passenger plane.