Libyan uranium: Armed group says missing barrels found


The Libyan armed group claims to have found barrels of natural uranium that missing in southern Libya.

Khaled al-Mahjoub, a spokesman for the self-proclaimed Libyan National Army (LNA), said on Facebook that the barrels were found 3 miles (5 km) from the warehouse where they were stored.

In a video posted by Mahjub, a man in a hazmat suit counts out loud 18 blue barrels that are believed to contain missing persons. natural uranium. The IAEA said “10 barrels” were missing from the warehouse.

The International Atomic Energy Agency reported the loss of 2.5 tons of natural uranium in the form of uranium ore concentrate. [IAEA] this week, after inspectors carried out verification activities on Tuesday.

“We are aware of media reports that the material has been found, the agency is actively working to verify them,” the IAEA said on Thursday. CNN has contacted the IAEA to confirm if the guns found by the LNA are the same ones reported missing by the UN nuclear service.

The barrels were stored in a secure warehouse in southern Libya, but guards were posted further afield due to radioactivity concerns, Mahjoub said in a Facebook post.

Mahjub added that a barrel-sized hole was found in the wall of the warehouse.

Mahjoub claimed that a group from Chad may have been responsible for stealing the barrels, thinking they were weapons, but threw the barrels away without properly knowing what was inside. The LNA provided no evidence to support this claim.

The group also said the force was tasked with guarding the warehouse after an IAEA team visited the warehouse in 2020 and tagged uranium barrels.

IAEA said the missing uranium posed “a small radiation hazard, but should be handled safely”.

“Loss of information about the current location of nuclear materials could pose a radiological risk as well as nuclear safety issues,” the IAEA said ahead of the LNA announcement.

There has been neither peace nor stability in Libya since the NATO-backed uprising against Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The country split in 2014 between warring factions in the east and west.