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US, UN and British Nuclear Experts Arrive in Libya - 2004-01-20

U.N. experts have arrived in Tripoli to begin work with American and British teams on eliminating Libya's nuclear technology and materials.

The team from the International Atomic Energy Agency arrived in the Libyan capital early Tuesday.

Tuesday's New York Times newspaper reports the weapons experts could begin dismantling and destroying the materials within weeks. The Associated Press carried a similar report.

The Times, citing a senior Bush administration official, said Libyan chemical weapons scientists are also making plans to incinerate tons of mustard gas agent manufactured to fill chemical bombs.

The official said the United States and Britain have not yet decided how to remove any highly enriched uranium and centrifuge machines, but illegal materials would probably be shipped to a secure facility in the United States or Britain.

On Monday, U.N., U.S. and British officials met in Vienna to discuss their specific roles in the dismantling of Libya's nuclear program. They agreed that the IAEA would verify the destruction and removal work, to be performed by U.S. and British experts.

Once Libya's nuclear program is dismantled, the United States is expected to lift economic sanctions on the north African nation, enabling the two countries to normalize relations. The United Nations lifted its sanctions on Libya in September.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters and AFP.