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Latest news Friday, 24 July, 1998, 01:02 GMT 02:02 UK
Nuclear bomb making material seized
Nuclear fuel plant
It is not known if the material came from a nuclear power plant
Indian security officials say they have seized six kilograms of enriched uranium in the southern city of Madras, and arrested three people.

The Central Bureau of Investigation said that initial tests showed the uranium could be used for making nuclear bombs.

One report, quoting preliminary evaluations at the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research in Kalpakkam, said that the uranium was radioactive, and contained around 1.4-2.2% of the isotope U235.

Indian nuclear test site
Nuclear testing has raised regional tensions
The material was seized from the house of an engineer, who was arrested, but its origin is unclear.

The engineer is reported to have "confessed during interrogation that the radioactive material, in the form of granules packed in a polythene bag, was passed on to him."

P Rodriguez, director of the Indira Gandhi Centre, said that uranium was not available in "granule form in any of the nuclear power establishments" in India.

There have been suggestions that the uranium could have been obtained from mines in the northern state of Bihar.

The arrests come at a time of heightened tension in South Asia, following highly controversial nuclear tests by India and Pakistan.

Last month three people were arrested in Indian state of West Bengal on charges of trying to smuggle uranium to Pakistan.

India's Atomic Energy Act prohibits possession or distribution of nuclear substances without valid licence or permission.

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