IAEA Informs Tons of Uranium Disappeared in Libya

OrganizationsInternational Organizations ♦ Published: March 15, 2023; 21:39 ♦ (Vindobona)

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), tons of uranium have disappeared in Libya. The natural uranium is no longer in the facility where it was stored, according to an IAEA letter to the organization's member states.

The International Atomic Energy Agency with headquarters in Vienna informed about the loss of uranium in Libya. / Picture: © IAEA International Atomic Energy Agency

IAEA inspectors "found that 10 drums containing approximately 2.5 tons 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," the one-page statement said as reported by Reuters. It will further investigate where the uranium is now and the circumstances of its removal, the statement said.

Since the fall of ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Libya has not been at peace. Since 2014, the country has been divided between rival civil war parties in the east and west.

Originally planned for last year, the inspection was postponed due to security concerns in the region, but was finally completed on Tuesday, according to the confidential statement from the chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi.

"The loss of knowledge about the present location of nuclear material may present a radiological risk, as well as nuclear security concerns," the statement said according to Reuters, adding that reaching the site required "complex logistics".

Libya's Nuclear Program

Muammar Gaddafi, Libya's then-leader, renounced his nuclear weapons program in 2003, which had been able to enrich uranium and provide design information for a nuclear weapon.

A NATO-backed uprising that ousted Gaddafi in 2011 has brought little peace to Libya. Political control has been split between eastern and western factions since 2014, with the last major conflict ending in 2020.

The U.N.-backed interim government in Libya, established in early 2021, was supposed to last until December elections that have not yet been held, and its legitimacy has also been questioned.