Report: UK officials say Libya was closer to nuke bomb than UN claim as Gadhaffi son admits Libya bought nuke components
The son of Libya's President Muammar Gadaffi has said Tripoli bought plans to make a nuclear bomb from Pakistani scientists for "millions of pounds", London's Sunday Times reported.
Saif al-Islam Gadaffi said that Libya had spent $40 million on its quest to acquire nuclear capability. Some of the "five-star Libyan scientists" working on the bomb had received training in the United Kingdom.
He also was quoted as saying by the paper that Britain would be involved in training and re-equipping the Libyan army in the framework of a historic deal announced by Tony Blair before Christmas under which Tripoli pledged to give up its nuclear and chemical weapons programs.
He said there would be "no problem" with British or US troops being positioned in Libya, adding, "We are giving up our weapons so we need an international umbrella for protection."
In an interview from his villa east of Tripoli, Saif Gadaffi, confirmed that Libya had "bought nuclear components, including centrifuges, from a variety of black market dealers", according to the report.
Some of the material came from Malaysia and various Asian countries, he added. Other components had been bought on the black market in South Africa.
"We dealt with an underground network of middle men and secret workshops," he said. "This piece from here, that piece from there."
He spoke of a "new page in Libya’s history" and disclosed how he had worked as a "trouble shoooter" in talks that alternated between London and Tripoli.
"I was able to take messages to my father and explain to him. By the end, we had a good relationship with the CIA, MI6 and all the Americans and British," he said. His father had needed reassurance, though, that they were not secretly pushing for "regime change" in the North African country.
"Once they assured us that they did not, everything went forward."
Moreover, Saif Gadaffi said he now expected Libya to open up, with BAE Systems and British Petroleum coming to the country for "big deals".
A top Arab source revealed that "some of the components for the Libyan nuclear program were bought in Dubai and shipped to Libya".
Meanwhile, London's Sunday Telegraph reported that British officials who have visited the country's secret weapons labs, said Libya was much closer to developing a nuclear bomb than was detected by UN inspection teams who visited the country last week.
According to them, Libya has "stockpiles of the ingredients for chemical weapons and the shells and bombs to deliver them".
Though Gadhaffi does not have biological weapons, Libya does have "dual-use technologies to make them", British and US officials have said.
"We saw uranium enrichment going ahead. We were satisfied that they were well on the way to developing a weapon," said one unidentified high-level British official.
"Libya was third on our list of concern after North Korea and Iran."
It should be noted that this comment contradicts the assessment made by Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the UN nuclear watchdog, during his first visit to Libya last week.
At one Libyan nuclear facility, ElBaradei said that his UN team of experts had found all the equipment "still in boxes."
"They were still a few years away from developing a nuclear weapon," he said. "This is a program at an early stage of development. They have not enriched any uranium, to our knowledge. They have not built any industrial-scale facility. It was all at the pilot laboratory scale." (Albawaba.com)
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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