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Asharq Al-Awsat
Asharq Al-Awsat
Cairo - Jamal Jawhar

Libya: LNA Says it Found Missing Uranium

Libyan National Army leader Khalifa Haftar. Photo: LNA

The Libyan National Army led by Khalifa Haftar said on Thursday that 10 drums of uranium declared missing by the UN nuclear watchdog had been found near the warehouse they were taken from in southern Libya.

The IAEA said in a confidential statement to member states seen by Reuters that it detected the missing uranium during a check at an unnamed site in Libya on Tuesday which it had postponed last year because of the security situation.

On Tuesday, “agency safeguards inspectors found that 10 drums containing approximately 2.5 tons of natural uranium in the form of uranium ore concentrate were not present as previously declared at a location in the state of Libya,” the IAEA said. “Further activities will be conducted by the agency to clarify the circumstances of the removal of the nuclear material and its current location.”

Following fears that the uranium would fall in the hands of gangs and terrorist groups, Khaled Mahjoub, head of a media unit for the LNA said in a statement that the missing barrels had been found some 5 kilometers south of the facility. 

They published a video showing a man in a disposable white suit and respirator in the desert, counting off what appeared to be 19 metal drums although the IAEA had said that only 10 drums were missing.

Mahjoub said that most likely Chadian separatist fighters, who operate in the region, had expected the drums to include weapons and ammunition.

Mahjoub said the site was a warehouse towards the border with Chad that the IAEA visited in 2020 and sealed with red wax.

But he claimed the storage site had been found with an “opening” on its side. He also asserted the IAEA failed to provide protective equipment and security for the site.

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