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US: Libya Paid $100 Million for Nuclear Materials - 2004-03-16

A top U.S. security official says Libya paid at least $100 million for nuclear weapons materials it received from a Pakistani scientist's underground network.

Deputy national security advisor Jim Wilkinson says the Pakistani scientist, Abdul Qadeer Khan, cut a "very lucrative deal" with Libya in the 1990's to supply almost everything Tripoli needed for its nuclear arms program.

Mr. Wilkinson made the remark Monday as the United States put some of Libya's nuclear equipment on display for the first time at a heavily guarded U.S. facility (-- the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee).

The materials consisted of 48 wooden crates and boxes containing what the Bush Administration calls "declassified" weapons of mass destruction.

Reporters were shown parts of high-speed centrifuges -- some still in their original packing -- that the Pakistani scientist sold to Libya.

The materials were seized when Libya agreed to dismantle its nuclear weapons program.

The Pakistani scientist has also admitted selling nuclear secrets to North Korea and Iran.

Monday, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, said Iran will allow weapons inspectors to return to the country on March 27.

Iran postponed inspections last week, when an IAEA resolution chastised Tehran for its failure to declare key nuclear technology. The Iranian Foreign Ministry called the resolution "insulting."

U.S. officials have accused Iran of having a secret atomic-weapons program. But Tehran insists its nuclear program is only for civilian purposes.

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.