2004 May 23 Sunday
Libya's Uranium May Have Come From North Korea

Two tons of uranium which Libya turned over to the United States and the IAEA may have been sold by North Korea's regime.

Evidence gathered by the UN atomic agency suggests North Korea was the source of nearly two tons of uranium to Libya as part of attempts by Colonel Gaddafi to build nuclear warheads, diplomats said today.

The diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity, cautioned that the investigation was not yet complete and other sources still could not be ruled out.

The uranium in question was not enriched. Libya had centrifuges it had bought from A. Q. Khan's nuclear black market ring for purifying the uranium into weapons grade.

Abdul Qadeer Khan is billed as the father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb. But he's not a physics genius in the league of Oppenheimer, Feynman, and other great physicists who worked on the US nuclear weapons program during World War II. Khan's achievement was really as a coordinator of manufacturing and services outsourcing and s stealer and purchaser of needed technologies. Khan's abilities are far more common than those of the best physicsts and best engineers. Various pieces of the needed expertise and component manufacturing capabilities can be found in many countries.

A lot of intelligence services are trying to figure out what other countries might have purchased uranium from North Korea.

The classified evidence many details of which are still sketchy has touched off a race among the world's intelligence services to explore whether North Korea has made similar clandestine sales to other nations or perhaps even to terror groups seeking atomic weapons.

If North Korea really did supply uranium to Libya then this, on top of other North Korean weapons and weapons technologies increases the likelihood that North Korea would sell complete bombs.

Mohamed ElBaradei of the IAEA is most worried about North Korea.

Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons "sends the worst signal to the would-be proliferators" that if they accelerate their weapons programs, powerful countries will negotiate with them.

"We need to make sure that that is not the lesson that people would learn from North Korea," he said. "I think it's the No. 1 international security concern. The way we deal with it, the way the international community responds to North Korea, is very important for the future precedent-setting."

The problem with North Korea is that if the United States threatens North Korea the regime will see that as a reason to develop nukes. But if the US does not threaten then the regime will pursue nuclear development anyhow. Nuclear weapons are seen by the regie as a way to become more powerful to fend off potential future threats and also probably as a tool to use as leverage to extort badly needed foreign aid to prop up a terrible economy.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2004 May 23 10:43 PM  US Foreign Weapons Proliferation Control

gcochran said at May 24, 2004 6:49 PM:

Uranium mined from different sources probably has slight but measurable variaitons in isotopic ratios, which would allow identification. Big variaitons if there is an 'oklo' phenomenon involved.

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