Veinna: A research centre near Tripoli has stocks of nuclear material that could be used to make a "dirty bomb", a former senior UN inspector said yesterday, warning of possible looting during turmoil in Libya.
Seeking to mend ties with the West, Libya's Colonel Muammar Gaddafi agreed in 2003 to abandon efforts to acquire nuclear, chemical and biological weapons — a move that brought him in from the cold and helped end decades of Libyan isolation.
A six-month popular insurgency has now forced Gaddafi to abandon his stronghold in the Libyan capital but continued gunfire suggests the resistance fighters have not completely triumphed yet.
Olli Heinonen, head of UN nuclear safeguards inspections worldwide until last year, pointed to substantial looting that took place at Iraq's Tuwaitha atomic research facility near Baghdad after Saddam Hussain was toppled in 2003.
In Iraq, "most likely due to pure luck, the story did not end in a radiological disaster," Heinonen said.
In Libya, "nuclear security concerns still linger," the former deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in an online commentary.