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Libyan forces recover 2.3 tonnes of missing Uranium

Umamah Bakharia | ub@radioislam.co.za

2 min read
16 March 2023 | 21:20 CAT

Libyan forces say they have recovered more than 2 tonnes of natural uranium that was reported missing by the United Nations nuclear watchdog, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in the war-scarred country’s east.

Picture credit: South China Morning Post

Leader of renegade commander Khalifa Haftar’s communications division, General Khaled al-Mahjoub, says on Thursday that the containers of uranium have been recovered “barely 5km [3 miles]” from where they had been stored in southern Libya.

However, another video issued by his media unit showed workers counting 18 recovered barrels.

In his statement he says the 10 missing barrels being found near the border with Chad, adding that the situation is under control.

“The situation is under control. The IAEA has been informed,” Mahjoub told AFP news agency.

Earlier on Thursday, the IAEA reported about 2.3 tonnes of natural uranium went missing from a site in Libya that was not under the countries government jurisdiction.

In a statement, the IAEA warned that the missing uranium presented “a radiological risk as well as nuclear security concerns”.

Uranium ore concentrate is considered to emit low levels of radioactivity that is commonly known as “yellowcake”, a powder consisting of around 80 percent uranium oxide. It is usually used in the preparation of nuclear fuel for reactors, and can also be used in the development of nuclear weapons.

Under late leader Muammar Gaddafi, Libya in 2003 had ended its nuclear operations, chemical and biological weapons programmes after disclosed discussions with the United States and United Kingdom.

However, since a NATO-backed uprising and Gaddafi’s fall in 2011, Libya has been facing a political crises with competing militias. This has formed opposing alliances backed by foreign powers.

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