News / Middle East

Concerns Grow Over Libyan Uranium Stockpiles

FILE - Libyan militias from towns throughout the country's west parade through Tripoli, Libya, Feb. 14, 2012.FILE - Libyan militias from towns throughout the country's west parade through Tripoli, Libya, Feb. 14, 2012.
x
FILE - Libyan militias from towns throughout the country's west parade through Tripoli, Libya, Feb. 14, 2012.
FILE - Libyan militias from towns throughout the country's west parade through Tripoli, Libya, Feb. 14, 2012.
Inspectors from the United Nations nuclear agency will soon begin an assessment of the adequacy of security arrangements for thousands of barrels of yellowcake uranium stockpiled in Libya. The inspection comes amid rising anxiety among Western powers and Libya's neighbors at the lawlessness disrupting the transition from dictatorship to democracy since the ouster two years ago of Moammar Gadhafi.
 
A team from the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, will arrive in the troubled North African country later this month to “verify existing stockpiles and conditions of storage,” the U.N. secretary-general’s special representative to Libya, Tarek Mitri, told the Security Council on Monday. 
 
According to Mr. Mitri, 6,400 barrels of yellowcake uranium are stored in a facility near Sabha, a desert town in the south that has witnessed episodic clashes between Tubu and Abu Seif tribesmen. Libyan intelligence officials say Al Qaida-linked Tuareg fighters fleeing the French intervention in Mali have moved into Libya’s south to set up camps.
 
The barrels of uranium are under control of a Libyan army battalion, Mitri told the 15-nation UN Security Council. In a closed-door meeting Russian Deputy U.N. Ambassador Alexander Pankin warned of the dangers of the Libyan uranium and also of weapons going astray and falling into the hands of terrorists.   
 
Yellowcake is concentrated natural uranium obtained through the milling and chemical processing of uranium ore. It is a coarse powder and can be used to make nuclear fuel. Anxiety has risen about the security surrounding uranium storage amid rising violence in Libya and clashes between the country’s fledgling army units and hardline Islamist militias that have refused to disband.
 
Militias at the root of instability
 
For the past two weeks, Libyan army units have been clashing in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi with members of the Ansar al-Sharia militia, a group suspected by U.S. officials of having been involved in the assault last year on the U.S. consulate that left ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans dead. The clashes have left a dozen dead and 50 wounded.
 
Libya’s unruly militias originated in the rebel forces that overthrew with NATO assistance Col. Gadhafi in an eight-month civil war in 2011. Mitri told the Security Council “the weak capacity of state military and policy institutions remains a serious problem.”
 
During the civil war and in its aftermath Libyan militias looted weapons from Col. Gadhafi’s huge stockpiles and weapons experts say large quantities have been hoarded or sold on the black market.
 
Arms experts raised the alarm about weapon proliferation from Libya even before the Libyan civil war concluded. Emergencies director of the New York-based Human Rights Watch, Peter Bouckaert, says he pleaded with NATO officials and major rebel militia leaders during the uprising to secure Gadhafi’s arsenals before it was too late.
 
“The proliferation of weapons from the Libya conflict was of a scale much greater than any other modern conflict. We already see the impact of these weapons in places like the Sinai, Gaza, and Mali, and we’ll still be talking about the consequences of this a decade from now, Bouckaert said.”
 
Earlier this year, Egyptian officials intercepted large caches of weapons smuggled from Libya destined for transfer to rebels in Syria, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and jihadists in the Sinai Peninsula.
 
Arms trafficking from Libya contributed to the destabilization of northern Mali, where huge inflows of weapons plundered from Gadhafi’s arsenals helped Tuareg mercenaries and jihadist fighters to carve out their own enclave in the heart of the sub-Sahara until France intervened.
 
Mokhtar Belmokhtar, an al-Qaida in the Maghreb (AQIM) leader who masterminded the seizure of an Algerian natural gas plant in January, bragged in a video posted online about how easy it had been to obtain Libyan weapons. Belmokhtar said his group got the weapons from Gadhafi’s arsenals during the eight-month-long uprising that ousted the late Libyan leader.
 
Chemical weapons experts will also be travelling to Libya this month to check on the elimination of Libyan toxic gas supplies that Gadhafi had agreed to dispose of before his downfall. Almost nine metric tons of mustard gas reportedly was destroyed earlier this year.

The security challenges facing the Libyan government were underscored Monday when yet another high-ranking security official was gunned down in Sirte, Gadhafi’s hometown. Colonel Ramadan al-Turouk was shot dead in his car. There has been a spike in targeted killings in Libya in recent month mainly of security officials. An American teacher at an international school in Benghazi was shot dead last week while he was jogging.
 
Last month, Washington said it is planning to train 5,000 to 8,000 Libyan soldiers to help improve security. Other Western countries have agreed also to train Libyan military personnel but analysts say the training could take at least two years.

You May Like

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: van from: vn
December 13, 2013 6:05 AM
hey, Chuck Hagel
i admire you , the world admire you when you represents the US Administration not to admit the ADIZ of china , not allow the setup of any ADID in the future .The world should cooperate to protest China on ADIZ. It is too greedy and selfish without considering the interests of other nations.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid