Reuters reported that the UN nuclear watchdog – International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) – inspectors found that roughly 2.5 tons of natural uranium have gone missing from a Libyan site that is not under government control, the IAEA told member states in a statement on Wednesday.
The finding was the 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 IAEA chief Rafael Grossi.
IAEA inspectors, according to Reuters, “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 agency would carry out “further activities” to determine the circumstances of the uranium’s removal from the site, which it did not name, and where it is now, the statement added.
“The loss of knowledge about the present location of nuclear material may present a radiological risk, as well as nuclear security concerns,” it said, adding that reaching the site required “complex logistics”.
In 2003, Libya under then-leader Muammar Gaddafi renounced its nuclear weapons programme, 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.