She said: ’Earlier today I chaired a meeting of COBR to review the progress of our investigation following the discovery yesterday of a suspect package at East Midlands airport.
‘Our preliminary examination of the device is now complete. I can confirm the device was viable and could have exploded. The target of the device may have been an aircraft and, had it detonated, the aircraft could have been brought down. But we do not believe that the perpetrators of the attack would have known the location of the device when they planned for it to explode.
‘Our investigation remains sensitive. We will continue to work very closely with international colleagues to develop our understanding of what was planned and of course to bring to justice those responsible.
‘I will be speaking again to my US counterpart Secretary for Homeland Security Janet Napolitano.
‘At this stage we have no information to indicate another attack is imminent. The threat level is already at severe, meaning that a terrorist attack in this country is highly likely. We do not plan to change that threat level at this stage.
‘Now we must take further precautionary measures. I have agreed with the Transport Secretary, to take immediate action to stop the movement of all unaccompanied airfreight originating in Yemen and moving into or through the UK. We are in contact with the transport sector about this. Direct cargo and passenger flights from Yemen were suspended for security reasons in January this year, following the earlier attempt to bomb an aircraft destined for Detroit.
‘The police and the security and intelligence agencies are working tirelessly to increase our understanding of the case. I would like to publicly thank them for their work. We are also grateful for all the assistance provided by other countries, notably the USA.
‘I have briefed the Prime Minister after our COBR meeting. He has been following events closely. The Government’s primary aim is to keep the UK safe.
‘I shall be monitoring progress and further statements will be made as necessary.’
What is COBR?
Cobra is the name for the civil contingencies committee which leads cross government responses to high priority national issues.