NEW DELHI: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has taken over the probe into the seizure of natural uranium worth over ₹21 crores in Mumbai, its spokesperson said on Sunday. The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) had arrested two persons — Jigar Jayesh Pandya and Abu Tahir Afzal Choudhary — on May 5 night and seized 7.1-kg uranium worth about ₹21.30 crore from them.
According to the NIA spokesperson, the agency re-registered the case, initially lodged at ATS Kalachowki police station, on Sunday in pursuance of an order of the Ministry of Home Affairs. The agency has begun an investigation into the case, the spokesperson added.
INFORMATION ABOUT NAUTRAL URANIUM
Natural uranium (NU, Unat) refers to uranium with the same isotopic ratio as found in nature. It contains 0.711% uranium-235, 99.284% uranium-238, and a trace of uranium-234 by weight (0.0055%). Approximately 2.2% of its radioactivity comes from uranium-235, 48.6% from uranium-238, and 49.2% from uranium-234.
Natural uranium can be used to fuel both low- and high-power nuclear reactors. Historically, graphite-moderated reactors and heavy water-moderated reactors have been fueled with natural uranium in the pure metal (U) or uranium dioxide (UO2) ceramic forms. However, experimental fuelings with uranium trioxide (UO3) and triuranium octaoxide, (U3O8) have shown promise.
The 0.72% uranium-235 is not sufficient to produce a self-sustaining critical chain reaction in light water reactors or nuclear weapons; these applications must use enriched uranium. Nuclear weapons take a concentration of 90% uranium-235, and light water reactors require a concentration of roughly 3% uranium-235. Unenriched natural uranium is the appropriate fuel for a heavy-water reactor, like a CANDU reactor.