Moammar Gaddafi agreed to end his nuclear-weapons program in 2003 after Saddam Hussein's groveling surrender in a spider hole, a program that had developed enough to produce weapons-grade plutonium. American and British negotiators won the release of the hardware Saddam produced for the program, and the international community agreed to end its diplomatic isolation on the assurance that Gaddafi would come completely clean on its nuclear capabilities. The French went too far, offering two weeks ago to take Libya nuclear again -- and now it turns out that they don't need to do so:
Nuclear experts claim that Libya is sitting on a stockpile of almost 200 barrels of uranium despite agreeing in 2003 to dismantle its nuclear programme, The Daily Telegraph has learned.
The revelation that Libya allegedly has not yet complied with the international agreement to get rid of its supply of uranium will be a particular blow to the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, after his recent move to deepen ties with the regime of Col Muammar Gaddafi.
It will also be an embarrassment to France's first lady, Cécilia Sarkozy, who travelled to Libya last month to help negotiate the release of the six Bulgarian and Palestinian medics accused of infecting children with HIV.
The uranium has been stored at Sabha, where Libya conducted much of its nuclear program in the past. The yellowcake has been estimated at a thousand tons, no small amount, and its worth is around $350 million. Sources "close" to the IAEA says that Gaddafi has delayed compliance with his commitment to denuclearize.
The Telegraph also notes that some may wonder where Gaddafi got all of that uranium. The likeliest place would be Niger, but the French control the uranium mines there. The UN also had sanctions on Libya for longer than they did on Saddam Hussein, which meant that no one should have been selling Gaddafi any uranium at all. And yet there it is -- and that once again calls into question Niger's insistence that it turned away Saddam Hussein in 1998 when similar obstacles existed to that trade.
At any rate, the French nuclear deal was probably DOA anyway, but this certainly will kill it. Gaddafi may have ended his military weapons program, but the uranium means that he's capable of restarting it. Gaddafi gave up centrifuges, and supposedly he has no more left. If he doesn't, he can build more, and in a few years we will be back where we started when he begins producing highly-enriched uranium for bombs rather than plutonium. We have to finish the job with Gaddafi, and soon.