And CNN actually thinks the al-Qaeda rebels are going to hand it over to us? MUAHAHAHAHA!
CNN’s Ben Wedeman reported Thursday that his team had found two warehouses full of what appeared to be radioactive material on a military base near the Libya town of Sabha.
“We’ve come across two warehouses full of thousands of blue barrels — some of them marked radioactive — on the ground,” Wedeman told CNN’s Kyra Phillips. “In one of the warehouses, we found several large plastic bags full of what appears to be yellow powder, which had been closed also with this radioactive tape.”
Military forces loyal to the country’s National Transitional Council took a CNN crew Thursday to the site, not far from Sabha in the Sahara desert. The crew saw two large warehouses there, one containing thousands of blue barrels, some marked with tape saying “radioactive,” and several plastic bags of yellow powder sealed with the same tape.
The material has not been confirmed as being radioactive, but the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog agency, confirmed Thursday that the Libyan government had yellowcake stored near Sabha.
A field commander for the revolutionary forces said the NTC wanted the international community to come in, identify the suspect material and take it to a place of safekeeping. The forces fear it could cause an environmental disaster if it were to explode during fighting, he said.
A U.S. Defense Department official, who declined to be identified due to the sensitive nature of the issue, told CNN that Libya’s remaining stock of highly enriched uranium was removed from the country as of 2009.
“We also continue to monitor Libya’s stockpile of uranium yellowcake,” the official said. “This material would need to go through an extensive industrial process, including enrichment, before it could be used in building a bomb. Such processes do not exist in Libya.” (But they do in Pakistan and Iran)
The official said it was important that the NTC fully secured the site and that it worked to allow international monitors to return to Libya as soon as possible.
“The IAEA has tentatively scheduled safeguards activities at this location once the situation in the country stabilizes,” she said in a statement.
These “safeguards” measures would not mean the IAEA was physically protecting the material — a national responsibility — but rather that it was carrying out technical checks on what was there to avoid proliferation, she said.