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Agreement Reached on Dismantling Libya's Nuclear Program - 2004-01-19

The International Atomic Energy Agency says it has agreed with the United States and Britain about how to oversee the dismantling of Libya's nuclear program. U.N. nuclear watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei said his agency will verify the dismantling of Libya's atomic program, while the United States and Britain will provide logistical support.

Mr. ElBaradei spoke after meeting with Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton and his British counterpart, William Ehrman.

IAEA spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said the talks set out a clear division of labor for work in Libya.

"It is clearly [desirable] to discuss the upcoming verification roles and who does what and how things are to be co-ordinated," she said. "It is extremely important that these kinds [of work], that one knows what the other is going to be doing."

Ms. Fleming said the agency is sending a multi-disciplinary team to Tripoli before the end of the month. American and British scientists are also visiting nuclear facilities in Libya and making their own reports.

Last month, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi made a surprise announcement that Libya was renouncing efforts to build nuclear and chemical weapons. U.S. officials said they wanted to play a leading role in the verification of Colonel Gadhafi's pledge, but the IAEA refused to be sidelined. Mr. ElBaradei insisted that his agency should oversee the dismantling process.

Mr. ElBaradei will report on the progress of the agency's work in Libya and Iran to the IAEA board of governors by mid-February.