Tons of uranium missing from Libyan site, IAEA tells member states
The U.N. nuclear watchdog inspectors found 2.5 tons of natural uranium missing from a Libyan location that is not under government supervision, according to a statement sent Wednesday by the watchdog to member states. This was seen by Reuters.
According to Rafael Grossi’s confidential statement, the finding was the result of an original inspection scheduled for last year but “had to be delayed due to the security situation in this region”. It was completed on Tuesday according to Grossi.
IAEA inspectors found that 10 drums containing about 2.5 tons of natural Uranium in the form UOC (uranium oxide concentrate) were not stored at that location, according to a one-page statement.
According to the statement, the agency would conduct “further activities” in order to determine the circumstances surrounding the removal of uranium from the site. It did not specify the location.
It stated that “the loss of knowledge regarding the current location of nuclear material could present a radiological threat, as well as nuclear security issues,” and added that it required “complex logistics” to reach the site.
Muammar Gaddafi, then the leader of Libya, renounced his nuclear weapons program in 2003. It had acquired centrifuges that could enrich uranium and design information for a bomb but made very little progress towards making one.
Since Gaddafi was ousted in 2011, Libya has experienced little peace. Political control in Libya has been divided between rival western and eastern factions since 2014. The last major conflict ended in 2020.
The U.N.-backed peace plan that established Libya’s interim government in 2021 was supposed to allow it to survive until the December election of 2021. This election has not been held and its legitimacy is still in dispute.