Libya’s underprotected atomic materials could make dirty bombs

WHAT: As the Libyan revolt enters a period of chaos, looters might find easy pickings in little-protected stocks of radioisotopes, radioactive waste and low-enriched uranium fuel at the Moammar Gadhafi dictatorship’s inactive Tajoura nuclear research laboratory.

WHY: Libya’s uranium-enrichment program was dismantled eight years ago by Gadhafi in order to lift the sanctions against him. But the radioactive materials that are still at Tajoura could easily be used for making dirty bombs, if they ended up in the wrong hands.

WHY IT’S OUTRAGEOUS: Looters hit Iraq’s Tuwaitha atomic research facility after Saddam Hussein was toppled in 2003. Olli Heinonen, former chief U.N. nuclear inspector, said it was “most likely due to pure luck” that no bombs were made from those nukes.

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