French interior minister Brice Hortefeux has said one of the two parcel bombs discovered on Friday was just 17 minutes from exploding.
Two packages were sent from Yemen, with one intercepted in Dubai before the other was discovered at East Midlands Airport in the United Kingdom.
Pictured: Parcels were discovered in Dubai and the UK
Hortefeux revealed the information in an interview with France-2. He did not reveal his source.
Investigators have focused on Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) as a likely source of the attack.
In the United States, Saudi-born extremist Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri has been identified as a prime suspect.
He is also suspected of being behind last year’s failed December 25th attempt to bomb a US airliner and other attacks.
“There were parcel bombs from Yemen heading for the United States, and I can tell you, for example, that one of these parcels was disarmed 17 minutes before the planned explosion,” Mr Hortefeux explained.
Mr Hortefeux was offering his interpretation of security threats facing France.
He said two people had been arrested and were being questioned on suspicion of “preparing a terrorist act”.
France has also issued a travel warning to citizens heading for the United Kingdom, urging “extreme vigilance”.
Following the discovery of the two devices a number of Western countries have suspended air freight from Yemen and tightened security of air cargo.
The bombs were found after a tip-off from Saudi authorities and were pulled off US-bound cargo planes in England and Dubai.
They were made of a difficult-to-detect explosive called PETN, and concealed within printer cartridges inside larger packages.
German officials have said the bombs contained 300-400g of PETN, more than enough to cause a large explosion.