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Sharon Warns Libya is Developing Nuclear Weapons - 2002-09-05

Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, has warned that Libya could become the first Arab State to develop nuclear weapons. Mr. Sharon says Libya is being aided by Iraq and North Korea.

Mr. Sharon issued his warning about Libya in a series of wide-ranging interviews with the Israeli media to coincide with the Jewish New Year.

He says Libya, under the supervision of Iraqi experts, is developing long-range missiles with atomic warheads. Mr. Sharon says Iraq could be using the Libyan project as a way to evade detection if U.N. arms inspectors return to Iraq.

He says North Korea is also involved in the effort.

While warning of the danger from Libya, Mr. Sharon sounded a more positive note about Israel's most immediate neighbors, the Palestinians.

He says that for the first time he sees the possibility of reaching a peace agreement with the Palestinians.

Mr. Sharon says he still regards Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, as "an obstacle to peace". But he says he is ready to negotiate with other Palestinian officials, who have come to realize that violence against Israel will not bring them any political gains.

The Israeli Prime Minister's comments follow nearly two years of Israeli-Palestinian clashes, in which more than 2,000 people have died. Israel is increasing security for this weekend's Jewish New Year observance.