2.5 tons of uranium went missing from Libya, says UN nuclear watchdog

The IAEA has said that it will conduct further activities to determine the circumstances of the uranium’s removal from the site and where it could have gone. The site was not named in the statement, but the UN watchdog has expressed concerns about the loss of knowledge about the present location of nuclear material. It stated that it might present a radiological risk and nuclear security concerns. The site’s complex logistics make it difficult to reach, the statement added.

In 2003, Libya renounced its nuclear weapons program under the leadership of Muammar Gaddafi. The program obtained centrifuges capable of enriching uranium as well as the design information for a nuclear bomb. However, it had made little progress toward building one. Since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that ousted Gaddafi, Libya has been in unrest. Political control has been divided between rival eastern and western factions since 2014, with the last major bout of conflict ending in 2020.

The current interim government in Libya was put in place in early 2021 through an UN-backed peace plan, with the expectation that it would only last until an election scheduled for December of that year. However, the election has still not been held, and the interim government’s legitimacy is now also disputed.

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