About 1,000lbs (453kg) of home-made explosive was packed into the blue Ford Transit van, registration number B706 DVX in Tottenham Court Road. Two warnings were received just after 7pm.
Police found the van near the junction with Stephen Street. They cleared hundreds of people from the area before 7.35pm, the time at which the bomb was supposed to go off.
But there is no doubt that the IRA will continue its efforts to cause at least one major explosion in London during the run-up to Christmas. Scotland Yard has warned the public to be vigilant.