There is also the matter of Gadhafi’s chemical weapons stockpiles. Together with the radiological materials, they could make for the jihadist garage sale of the century, matched only by a similar potential scenario in Syria. “Nuclear experts warn of Libya “dirty bomb” material,” from Reuters, August 24:
A research center near Tripoli has stocks of nuclear material that could be used to make a “dirty bomb,” a former senior U.N. inspector said on Wednesday, warning of possible looting during turmoil in Libya.
Seeking to mend ties with the West, Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi agreed in 2003 to abandon efforts to acquire nuclear, chemical and biological weapons — a move that brought him in from the cold and helped end decades of Libyan isolation.
We may find out now if he had a backup plan, or how thorough he really was in disarming.
A six-month popular insurgency has now forced Gaddafi to abandon his stronghold in the Libyan capital but continued gunfire suggests the rebels have not completely triumphed yet.
Olli Heinonen, head of U.N. nuclear safeguards inspections worldwide until last year, pointed to substantial looting that took place at Iraq’s Tuwaitha atomic research facility near Baghdad after Saddam Hussein was toppled in 2003.
In Iraq, “most likely due to pure luck, the story did not end in a radiological disaster,” Heinonen said.
In Libya, “nuclear security concerns still linger,” the former deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in an online commentary.
Libya’s uranium enrichment program was dismantled after Gaddafi renounced weapons of mass destruction eight years ago. Sensitive material and documentation including nuclear weapons design information were confiscated.
But the country’s Tajoura research center continues to stock large quantities of radioisotopes, radioactive waste and low-enriched uranium fuel after three decades of nuclear research and radioisotope production, Heinonen said.
Refined uranium can have civilian as well as military purposes, if enriched much further.
“While we can be thankful that the highly enriched uranium stocks are no longer in Libya, the remaining material in Tajoura could, if it ended up in the wrong hands, be used as ingredients for dirty bombs,” Heinonen, now at Harvard University, said….