(ConservativeCore.com)- In a statement released Wednesday, the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency stated that its director-general, Rafael Mariano Grossi, had alerted member nations about missing uranium.
On Thursday, the United Nations nuclear watchdog said that almost two and a half tons of natural uranium housed in Libya had gone missing, sparking safety and proliferation fears.
Researchers suggest that every ton of natural uranium can eventually be processed into 5.6 kilos (12 pounds) of weapons-grade material if acquired by a party with the technical capabilities and finances to do so. That’s why nonproliferation specialists must track down the missing metal.
It takes time to enrich natural uranium to the levels required for energy generation or bomb fuel since the metal must first be transformed into a gas and then spun in centrifuges.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) warned about Libyan uranium’s disappearance. According to the IAEA, getting to the location, which is not under government control, required complicated logistics.
The IAEA has refused to provide any further information on the vanishing uranium. But, it has acknowledged that the missing uranium was located at a “previously disclosed site,” eliminating some potential locations.
Sabha is one such proclaimed site in the lawless south of Libya in the Sahara Desert. It is located around 660 kilometers (410 miles) southeast of Libya’s capital, Tripoli.
Hundreds of barrels of yellowcake uranium were held there throughout Moammar Qadhafi’s decades-long covert weapons program.
Around 1,000 metric tons of yellowcake uranium were reportedly stockpiled in Libya when Gadhafi announced his country’s budding nuclear weapons program to the world in 2003 after the United States-led invasion of Iraq.
Although all enriched uranium was withdrawn from Libya by inspectors in 2009, the yellowcake was left behind; the United Nations estimated in 2013 that around 6,400 barrels were kept in Sabha. According to a diplomatic cable leaked by WikiLeaks in 2009, US authorities were concerned that Iran would attempt to acquire the uranium from Libya.