ElBaradei visits former nuclear '\'secret sites'\'; says Libya was in '\'early stages'\' of weapons program
The UN nuclear chief said Monday that his visits to four previously secret sites related to Libya's nuclear weapons program, on the second day of a trip to the country, proved that Libya had been in the early stages of a weapons program before it dismantled its efforts.
Mohammed ElBaradei said the equipment and technology had come from a number of countries.
"What we have seen is a program in the very initial stages of development," ElBaradei told reporters. "We haven't seen any industrial-scale facility to produce highly enriched uranium; we haven't seen any enriched uranium" - the material needed for developing nuclear weapons.
ElBaradei and his team of experts visited four previously unmentioned nuclear sites in and around the capital of Tripoli on Sunday, and he said all the equipment had been dismantled and boxed up.
ElBaradei said the origins of Libya's technology would easily be identified "as they were of a familiar design."
He suggested a "sophisticated network" was behind the technology, including "a number of different people in a number of different places, a network which you can call a cartel but not necessarily with the knowledge of a particular country or countries."
"It has been across many countries in the world," he said.
On Monday, he declined to disclose the number or names of Libyan scientists or where they received training, but said they were "well competent scientists."
"That is good for Libya ... to work on the peaceful development in nuclear program for civilian purposes," he said.
The UN top official, who was set to leave Libya later Monday, met with Matouq Mohammed Matouq, a Libyan deputy prime minister and head of the country's nuclear program, to develop a plan for future inspections.
As a signatory of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, Libya is required to declare all sensitive nuclear installations to the United Nations. Upon arriving in Libya Saturday, ElBaradei said the country appeared to be far from producing nuclear arms.
ElBaradei had said earlier that Libya received its weapons equipment "through the black market and middle people."
The visit by the UN team is in the framework of an international effort to ensure the North African country has no weapons of mass destruction. Six inspectors will be in Libya until Thursday. (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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