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IAEA Head to Visit Libya Next Week - 2004-02-16

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency will go to Libya next week to discuss work on dismantling Tripoli's nuclear-arms program.

IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei is scheduled to pay his second visit to the North African state since December, when Tripoli announced its intention to scrap weapons of mass destruction.

The U.N. nuclear agency has made an inventory of sensitive weapons designs and nuclear material that Libya kept secret for years.

IAEA spokesman Mark Gwozdecky said Mr. ElBaradei could bring this up in talks with senior Libyan leaders. "That material is still under analysis by our inspectors. I do anticipate that the issue of the March Board of Governors meeting will be discussed, that Libya's signing of the additional protocol will be discussed," he said.

The additional protocol is a binding legal agreement, which would give IAEA inspectors greater access rights to nuclear facilities in the future.

In March, the 35 nation IAEA board of governors will meet to hear Mr. ElBaradei's report on Libya. Diplomats say the board may decide to inform the U.N. Security Council of Tripoli's past violations of international obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The board is also likely to praise Libya's co-operation with the IAEA, which led to the discovery of a vast, global nuclear black market.

Tripoli bought nuclear technology on the black-market network headed by Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan.

But Mr. ElBaradei says that besides Mr. Khan, many countries, companies and individuals are involved in the illicit trading of nuclear material.