More than two tons of Libyan uranium has been recovered after a brief concern about its whereabouts. The potential nuclear fuel had been a part of the nuclear program of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
Between 10 and 18 barrels of the material were found in a warehouse in the southern part of the country, according to the self-proclaimed Libyan National Army. The country was recently in a state of civil war.
The announcement comes as a relief to the international community as uranium can be used either for nuclear power generation or for use in nuclear weapons.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) declared the uranium missing earlier this week. It had been stored near Libya’s border with Chad and was last inspected by the IAEA in 2020. The site was in an area out of the control of government control.
The spokesman for the Libyan National Army stated that the transfer of the uranium from its previous last known location to where it was found three miles away may have been caused by separatist fighters from Chad raiding the warehouse and stealing the barrels.
— Reuters (@Reuters) March 16, 2023
Libya developed a nuclear weapons program under Gaddafi, who ruled the country from 1969-2011. Gaddafi announced the end of Libya’s programs related to weapons of mass destruction following the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. Among the dismantled programs were Libya’s nuclear facilities, which came under United Nations supervision.
Following a crackdown on protesters by the Libyan government, the United States and allies began military operations in the country following United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which resulted in the overthrow of Gaddafi’s socialist regime following a civil war. Gaddafi was captured and executed by rebels in October 2011.
Since the end of Gaddafi’s government, Libya entered into a fragile period, culminating in a second civil war that lasted between 2014-2020.
The country is currently split into two major factions, the Government of National Unity and the Government of National Stability. The United Nations has been involved in efforts to unify the country peacefully.