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Libya General Says Missing Uranium Found


FILE: A Libyan uses a Geiger counter to measure radiation at the Tajoura nuclear research center in Tripoli September 5, 2011. Libya's uranium enrichment program ended but the Tajoura research center continued to stock radioisotopes, radioactive waste and uranium fuel.

TRIPOLI - More than two tons of natural uranium reported missing by the UN's IAEA nuclear watchdog in war-scarred Libya have been found, a general in the country's east said Thursday.

General Khaled al-Mahjoub, commander of eastern strongman Khalifa Haftar's communications division, said the containers of uranium had been recovered "barely five kilometers" from where they had been stored in southern Libya, and after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported their disappearance earlier Thursday.

The IAEA's report came as a result of an inspection originally planned for last year that "had to be postponed because of the security situation in the region" and was finally carried out on Tuesday, according to the confidential statement by International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Grossi.

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.

The site "is currently not under the regulatory control of Libya's state authority," the report said.

The report did not identify the site or say why Libya was in possession of the material.

In 2003 Libya under then-leader Muammar Gaddafi renounced its nuclear weapons program, which had obtained centrifuges that can enrich uranium as well as design information for a nuclear bomb, though it made little progress towards a bomb.

This report was sourced from Reuters and Agence France-Presse.