(NewsReady.com) – On Wednesday, March 15, the United Nations’ nuclear agency warned that tons of uranium has gone missing in Libya. The material, which can be processed into nuclear fuel or weapons-grade uranium, could have fallen into the hands of criminals or terrorists. Luckily, it isn’t a threat right now, but it could become one if it ends up in the wrong place.
The Libyan Army has claimed to have found the 10 missing drums containing approximately 2.5 tons of natural Uranium.https://t.co/PzK4AXb3CT#Libya #LibyaReview pic.twitter.com/irTrWVZhRA
— Libya Review (@LibyaReview) March 16, 2023
On March 16, Rafael Grossi, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), revealed that inspectors at a storage site in Libya had found 2.5 tons of Uranium Ore Concentrate (UOC), which had been declared to be at the site, wasn’t there. The site isn’t controlled by the Libyan government. The IAEA inspectors said reaching it required “complex logistics,” with one analyst saying that anyone who went to the trouble of removing the uranium “must really want it,” in a statement to BBC.
The uranium is packed into ten drums, and is believed to be in powder form. Right now, it has very low-level radioactivity, so it can’t be made into a nuclear weapon, and it isn’t even a good material for a “dirty” bomb, although it could be used to lightly contaminate an area. The problem is that 2.5 tons of UOC could be refined into almost 32 pounds of weapons-grade uranium — and that’s enough to make one, or even two, small nuclear weapons if a state like Iran got control of the material.
The problem might already have been solved. On March 16, a local warlord, Khaled al-Mahjoub of the Libyan National Army (LNA) — which, despite its name, isn’t the actual Libyan army — claimed the uranium had been found just three miles from the storage site. So far, the IAEA hasn’t been able to confirm that, but if true, it would reduce the danger. The LNA isn’t linked to Islamist extremism.
On the other hand, as long as nuclear material is stored in unstable states like Libya, there’s always the chance of it being stolen by terrorists or rogue states.
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