UN nuclear watchdog: 2.5 tons of uranium missing in Libya
Baku, March 16, AZERTAC
Some 2.5 tons of natural uranium stored in a site in war-torn Libya have gone missing, the United Nations nuclear watchdog said Thursday, raising safety and proliferation concerns, according to Yahoo News.
Natural uranium can't immediately be used for energy production or bomb fuel, as the enrichment process typically requires the metal to be converted into a gas, then later spun in centrifuges to reach the levels needed.
However, each ton of natural uranium — if obtained by a group with the technological means and resources — can be refined to 5.6 kilograms (12 pounds) of weapons-grade material over time, experts say. That makes finding the missing metal important for nonproliferation experts.
In a statement, the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency said its director-general, Rafael Mariano Grossi, informed member states Wednesday about the missing uranium.
The IAEA statement remained tightlipped though on much of the details.
On Tuesday, “agency safeguards inspectors found that 10 drums containing approximately 2.5 tons of natural uranium in the form of uranium ore concentrate were not present as previously declared at a location in the state of Libya,” the IAEA said. “Further activities will be conducted by the agency to clarify the circumstances of the removal of the nuclear material and its current location.”
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