UN nuclear inspectors have discovered that about 2.5 tons of natural uranium have gone missing at a facility in Libya that is not under government control, writes The Guardian. Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Grossi told the organization's member states that 10 barrels of uranium ore concentrate "were not present as previously stated." The IAEA will take action "to clarify the circumstances of the removal of nuclear material and its current location."
Each ton of natural uranium can eventually be purified up to 5.6 kg of material that can be used to create weapons-grade uranium, experts say. "Loss of nuclear material poses a radiological risk and also raises concerns about nuclear safety," the IAEA chief said in a statement.
In the early 1990s, the first 20 centrifuges capable of producing fissile materials for nuclear weapons entered Libya. In parallel, large purchases of uranium continued. According to some reports, in 2001-2002, Libya purchased drawings that allowed them to start assembling their own bomb.
Since the fall of Gaddafi in 2011, the African nation has been mired in a political crisis that has seen scores of militias form rival alliances backed by foreign powers. Libya remains divided between a nominally interim government in the capital Tripoli in the west and another government in the east backed by military strongman Khalifa Haftar.