The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations nuclear watchdog, has said that hundreds of tons of uranium have gone missing from a facility in Libya. The missing material is believed to have been taken from the Tajoura Nuclear Research Centre in Tripoli, the capital.
The IAEA said in a report that the amount of uranium missing is “sufficient for several nuclear weapons,” although it noted that the uranium is not weapons-grade and would require enrichment before it could be used in any weapons.
The report noted that the uranium was stored in a “secure location,” but that it had been removed without authorization. It also said that the facility had been “insecure” since the start of the civil war in 2011.
The report comes amid ongoing tensions in the region, with Libya’s UN-backed government in Tripoli clashing with forces loyal to the self-styled Libyan National Army, led by General Khalifa Haftar.
The IAEA said that it had been unable to verify the uranium’s current whereabouts and urged all parties to the conflict to ensure the safety and security of all nuclear material in Libya. It also urged countries in the region and beyond to provide any information they might have about the missing uranium.