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At least 2.5 tonnes of natural uranium missing from Libyan site, says IAEA

WION logo WION 16-03-2023 Anamica Singh
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The United Nations nuclear agency said on Wednesday that approximately 2.5 tonnes of natural uranium was missing from a site in Libya. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Rafael Grossi told the organisation's member states that upon inspection of the site, it was found Tuesday that 10 drums containing uranium ore concentrate "were not present as previously declared" at the location in Libya.

IAEA inspectors "found that 10 drums containing approximately 2.5 tonnes of natural uranium in the form of UOC (uranium ore concentrate) previously declared by (Libya) ... as being stored at that location were not present at the location," a one-page statement by Grossi said.

The IAEA said it will conduct further activities "to clarify the circumstances of the removal of the nuclear material and its current location". However, no details were revealed about the site. 

Also Read | Libya: 18 bodies exhumed from mass grave in former Islamic State stronghold

The inspection was initially planned for last year that but "had to be postponed because of the security situation in the region". It was finally carried out on Tuesday, according to the confidential statement by Grossi.

In 2003, Libya abandoned a programme to develop nuclear weapons under its former dictator Muammar Gaddafi. It obtained centrifuges that can enrich uranium as well as design information for a nuclear bomb. A political crisis has gripped the country since Gaddafi's fall in 2011. Several militia groups have formed opposing alliances backed by foreign powers.

A UN-backed peace plan placed an interim government in the country in early 2021. It was only supposed to last until an election scheduled for December of that year that has still not been held, and its legitimacy is now also disputed.

(With inputs from agencies)

 

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