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Tuesday, June 16, 1998 Published at 11:22 GMT 12:22 UK

World: South Asia

Indian politician accused of smuggling uranium

Both India and Pakistan have recently carried out nuclear testing

Police in the Indian state of West Bengal have arrested an opposition politician who they say was carrying more than 100 kilograms of unrefined uranium.

Indian intelligence officials say they suspect that the politician, Maheswar Singh Deo, is part of a group that is smuggling unrefined uranium to neighbouring Pakistan.

Four years ago some members of the group were caught smuggling out semi-processed uranium from the Domiosiat mines in the north-eastern state of Meghalaya.

[ image: Police say tests confirmed Mr Deo was carrying 100 kilos of unrefirned uranium]
Police say tests confirmed Mr Deo was carrying 100 kilos of unrefirned uranium
Police say they called in scientists from the Uranium Corporation of India Ltd, UCIL, after their suspicions were aroused. After inspecting Mr Deo's bag the scientists confirmed that he was carrying unrefined uranium.

Mr Deo, a member of the Congress Party, the main opposition group in Marxist-ruled West Bengal, was arrested late on Sunday night on the border between West Bengal and Bihar.

He was brought to Calcutta on Tuesday for questioning by Indian intelligence officials.

Indian and Pakistan both exploded nuclear devices last month, attracting international sanctions. Since then Indian intelligence says that they have stepped up surveillance around India's uranium mining centres.

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