Suspected Iranian WMD Plot Investigated in Britain

The United Kingdom launched a major counterterrorism operation after airport authorities discovered a package of nuclear material arriving from the Middle East. Heathrow Airport confiscated several kilograms of uranium on December 29. The package originated in Pakistan and arrived in Heathrow via Oman. It was addressed to an Iranian-linked firm on British soil.

What could it have been used for? Anonymous sources told the Daily Mail that the uranium wasn’t weapons grade, so it was unsuitable for making a nuclear weapon. But experts worry the material was intended for a radiological weapon. Called “dirty bombs,” such weapons aren’t meant to cause a nuclear explosion. Rather, they’re meant to unleash dangerous levels of radiation over a wide area. Put another way, it causes nuclear fallout without the mushroom cloud. Radiological weapons are a type of weapon of mass destruction (wmd).

Was Iran planning a dirty bomb attack on London? Too few details are available at the moment to know. But if so, this wouldn’t be the first time Iran orchestrated terrorist attacks in Europe. In 2018, an Iranian diplomat was implicated in a Paris bomb plot. Last month, news broke out of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps operating in Germany to attack Jewish centers. But launching a wmd in a major European metropolis would take Iran’s terrorist activities to a new level.

What to watch: Europe-Iran relations are already at a low point. But we can expect relations to deteriorate even further until they reach a crisis point. To learn more, see our Trends article “Why the Trumpet Watches Iran and Europe Heading for a Clash of Civilizations.”