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

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

Ali Regained Title in Historic Fight 40 Years Ago

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license 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.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid