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Missile Overview

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« on: February 26, 2011, 04:25:05 pm »

Nuclear Overview

On 19 December 2003, the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (Libya) agreed to eliminate all materials, equipment, and programs resulting in the production of nuclear or other internationally proscribed weapons. Libya's leader Colonel Mu'ammar Qadhafi admitted that, in contravention of its international obligations under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), Libya had pursued a nuclear weapons program, allegedly to counter the covert Israeli nuclear program. In 2004, the United States and the United Kingdom dismantled Libya's nuclear weapons infrastructure with oversight from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Since renouncing its clandestine nuclear program in late 2003, Libya has sought to establish a nuclear power infrastructure for electricity production, seawater desalination, and the production of medical isotopes. [1] However, Libya's nuclear power aspirations remain in the research and development stages. As of February 2011, it is unclear whether or how political instability in Libya, involving mass protests against Qadhafi, will affect the future direction of the country's nuclear program. [2]


1968 to 1990: Program Beginnings
While still under the rule of the pro-Western King Idris, Libya signed the NPT in July 1968. Even though Idris was overthrown in a 1969 coup led by the Revolutionary Command Council headed by Qadhafi, Libya ratified the NPT in 1975. However, many reports indicate that Qadhafi, whose rise to power was partly driven by resentment over the 1967 defeat of the Arabs by Israel, began seeking a nuclear weapons capability shortly after taking power and adopting a strong anti-Israel stance.

Owing to Libya's relatively low level of technical development, these nuclear efforts focused on foreign suppliers. In 1970, for example, Libya reportedly made an unsuccessful attempt to purchase nuclear weapons from China.[3] And in 1978, Libyan agents allegedly tried to buy nuclear weapons from India.[4] There are also many reports of nuclear dealings during the 1970s between Libya and Pakistan. These allegedly involved Libyan assistance to Pakistan in acquiring access to uranium ore concentrate from neighboring Niger in return for Pakistani nuclear assistance to Libya.[5] Whether these dealings laid the basis for later Libya-Pakistan nuclear cooperation remains unclear.

Evidence released by the IAEA in 2004 suggests that during the 1970s and 1980s, Libya decided to pursue both the uranium- and plutonium-based pathways to nuclear weapons. Steps were taken in the 1970s to gain access to uranium ore, uranium conversion facilities, and enrichment technologies that together would have enabled Libya to produce weapons-grade uranium. This activity was conducted covertly and in violation of IAEA safeguards. Libya pursued foreign supplies of uranium ore (UOC), for example. Reports indicate that during the 1970s, Libya imported 1,200 tons of uranium ore concentrate from French-controlled mines in Niger without declaring it to the IAEA, as required by the NPT.[6] Libya admitted to the IAEA in 2004 that it had actually imported 2,263 metric tons of uranium ore concentrate from 1978 to 1981, but only declared the import of 1,000 metric tons.[7] The remaining 1,263 metric tons were thus not subject to IAEA safeguards and could be used in covert nuclear activities.

Libya also worked to acquire uranium conversion facilities, which would have enabled it to convert the UOC to a form more suitable for enrichment. In 1982, Libya attempted to purchase a plant for manufacturing uranium tetrafluoride from the Belgian firm Belgonucleaire. U.S. analysts suspected that the intended use for the plant was to produce uranium hexafluoride, the feedstock for a centrifuge uranium enrichment program (like that pursued by Pakistan). At the time, Libya had no declared nuclear facilities that required uranium tetrafluoride, and the purchase was refused.[8] This refusal did not discourage Libya, however, which in 2004 admitted to the IAEA that it had acquired a pilot-scale uranium conversion facility in 1984.[9] The IAEA report does not, however, identify the country that supplied Libya with this facility. The plant was fabricated in portable modules in accordance with Libyan specifications. Libya received these modules in 1986, but then placed them in storage until 1998.[10] Libya has also admitted that during the 1980s it conducted undeclared laboratory-scale uranium conversion experiments at the Tajoura Nuclear Research Center.[11] Along these same lines, Libya has now reported exporting several kilograms of UOC in 1985 to a "nuclear weapon state" for processing into various uranium compounds. Libya subsequently received a variety of compounds back from the state in question, including 39 kilograms of uranium hexafluoride. At the time, this export was also not reported to the IAEA by either Libya or the nuclear weapon state.[12] The IAEA report does not name the nuclear weapon state involved in this transaction, but David Albright of the Institute for Science and International Security said the Soviet Union and China were the most likely suspects, although he added, "I think it's hard to know...It was a time when people weren't scrutinizing these things very carefully."[13]

Libya also sought uranium enrichment equipment and technology during the 1970s and 1980s. In 1973, Libya tried to purchase 20 calutrons to enrich uranium from the French company Thomson-CSF. The deal, apparently supported by top company officials, was blocked by the French government because of the obvious proliferation risk of exporting enrichment technology to a non-nuclear weapon state.[14] Later, in the 1980s, a "foreign expert" began a research and design program at the Tajoura Nuclear Research Center in Libya aimed at producing gas centrifuges for uranium enrichment.[15] The "foreign expert" was reportedly a former employee of a German firm.[16] However, Libya has told the IAEA that by the time the "foreign expert" concluded his work in 1992, Libya was not yet able to produce an operating centrifuge, and no centrifuge experiments involving nuclear materials had been conducted. However, Libya had acquired technical expertise useful for the next stage of centrifuge development and design.[17] According to the IAEA, after the German expert left, the uranium enrichment program lost momentum, and was not reinvigorated until after 1995.[18]

As another way to build its nuclear expertise, however, Libya also pursued "peaceful" cooperation with the Soviet Union, under IAEA safeguards. The main result of Soviet-Libyan nuclear cooperation was the completion in 1979 of a 10MW research reactor at Tajoura. This reactor offered Libya the opportunity to explore plutonium production technology, which Libya did, while evading IAEA safeguards intended to detect such activities. Between 1984 and 1990, Libya produced several dozen small uranium oxide and uranium metal targets, a number of which were irradiated in the Tajoura reactor to produce radioisotopes. Thirty-eight of these targets were dissolved, and the radioisotopes extracted in hot cells. Libya has reported to the IAEA that very small amounts of plutonium were extracted from at least two of the targets.[19] Presumably the data gathered in these experiments would have proven useful if Libya had decided to pursue plutonium production more actively.

Libya made efforts in the 1970s and 1980s to buy a reactor larger than the one at Tajoura. In 1976, negotiations were held between France and Libya for the purchase of a 600MW reactor. A preliminary agreement was reached, but strong objections by the international community led France to cancel the project.[20] In the 1970s and 1980s, Libya discussed the construction of a nuclear power plant with the Soviet Union. At one point, the Belgian firm Belgonucleaire was in discussions to provide engineering support and equipment for this proposed project, but in 1984, U.S. pressure led the firm to refuse the contract.[21] Discussions with the Soviet Union about power reactor projects continued, but never produced a final agreement. By the late 1980s, Libya's nuclear program began to be hampered by economic sanctions prompted by Qadhafi's support of terrorism. In 1986, for example, the United States imposed economic sanctions on Libya, which were later expanded in 1992 and 1996.[22]

1990 to 2003: Nuclear Weapons Program Intensifies
By the early 1990s Libya's support of international terrorism, and in particular the 1988 bombing of a U.S. airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland, had prompted the imposition of UN economic sanctions. These sanctions restricted Libya's foreign trade, and presumably restricted the funds available to the Libyan nuclear program. Nevertheless, in the early 1990s, reports indicate that Libya tried to exploit the chaos generated by the collapse of the Soviet Union to gain access to former Soviet nuclear technology, expertise, and materials. In 1992, for example, an official of the Kurchatov Institute in Moscow, one of Russia's leading nuclear research centers, claimed that Libya had unsuccessfully tried to recruit two of his colleagues to work at the Tajoura Nuclear Research Center in Libya.[23] Other reports also suggested that Russian scientists had been hired to work on a covert Libyan nuclear weapons program.

Throughout the 1990s, Qadhafi renewed calls for the production of nuclear weapons in Libya[24] and pursued new avenues for nuclear technology procurement,[25] while publicly, if grudgingly, supporting the nuclear nonproliferation regime. At the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference, Libya initially rejected an indefinite extension because Israel had never joined the treaty; however, Libya eventually supported the extension. In 1996, Qadhafi stated that Arab states should develop a nuclear weapon to counter Israel's presumed nuclear weapons capability. Nonetheless, in April 1996 Libya signed the African-Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty. Later that same year, Libya voted against the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty at the UN General Assembly because it did not provide a deadline for nuclear disarmament. (Libya eventually signed the CTBT in November 2001 and ratified it in January 2004.)[26]

According to the IAEA Director General's February 2004 report, "n July 1995, Libya made a strategic decision to reinvigorate its nuclear activities," including gas centrifuge uranium enrichment. In 1997, foreign manufacturers, including Pakistan, provided 20 pre-assembled L-1 centrifuges and components for an additional 200 L-1 centrifuges and related parts. [27] One of the 20 pre-assembled rotors was used to install a completed single centrifuge at the Al Hashan site, which was first successfully tested in October 2000. Libya reported to the IAEA that no nuclear material had been used during tests on the L-1 centrifuges.[28]

In 1997, Libya began receiving nuclear weapons-related aid from Dr. A.Q. Khan, the chief architect of the Pakistani nuclear weapons program and confessed proliferator of nuclear technologies to several countries of concern, including Iran and North Korea. This cooperation continued until fall 2003, when Khan's clandestine collaboration with these countries became public following Libya's disclosures about its efforts to build nuclear weapons. In 1997, Khan supplied Libya with the 20 assembled L-1 centrifuges, [29] and components for an additional 200 more intended for a pilot facility. In 2001, Libya received almost two tons of UF6; while some reports claim that the UF6 was provided by Pakistan,[30] others cite evidence that it originated in North Korea.[31] IAEA sources believe that amount of UF6 is consistent with the requirements for a pilot enrichment facility. If enriched, the UF6 could produce a single nuclear weapon.[32]In late 1997, Libya also renewed its nuclear cooperation with Russia, and in March 1998 Libya signed a contract with the Russian company Atomenergoeksport for a partial overhaul of the Tajoura Nuclear Research Center.[33]

In late 2000, Libya's nuclear activities accelerated. Libyan authorities have informed the IAEA that at that time, Libya began to order centrifuges and components from other countries with the intention of installing a centrifuge plant to make enriched uranium. Libya also imported equipment for a fairly large precision machine shop (located at Janzour) and acquired a large stock of maraging steel and high strength aluminum alloy to build a domestic centrifuge production capability.[34] In September 2000, Libya received two L-2 centrifuges (European-designed centrifuges more advanced than the L-1). In late 2000, Libya began to progressively install 9-machine, 19-machine, and 64-machine L-1 centrifuge cascades into a large hall at Al Hashan.[35] Only the 9-centrifuge machine was completely assembled in 2002.[36] Libya also ordered 10,000 L-2 centrifuges from Pakistan. By late December 2002, component parts for the centrifuges began arriving in Libya.[37] However, in October 2003, U.S. intelligence agencies seized a subsequent consignment of centrifuge-related equipment bound for Libya in a northern Mediterranean port.[38] Investigations revealed that many of these components were manufactured by the Scomi Precision Engineering SDN BHD plant in Malaysia with "roles played by foreign technical, manufacturing, and transshipment experts, including A.Q. Khan and his associates at A.Q. Khan Laboratories in Pakistan, B.S.A. Tahgir in Malaysia and Dubai, and several Swiss, British, and German nationals."[39]

Libya sought not only the capability to enrich uranium to weapon-grade levels, but also the know-how to design and fabricate nuclear weapons.[40] In either late 2001 or early 2002, A.Q. Khan provided Libya with the blueprint for a fission weapon.[41] According to the February 2004 IAEA report, Libya acknowledged receiving from a foreign source in late 2001 or early 2002, documentation related to nuclear weapon design and fabrication. "The documents presented by Libya include a series of engineering drawings relating to nuclear weapons components, notes, (many of them handwritten) related to the fabrication of weapon components. The notes indicate the involvement of other parties and will require follow-up."[42] U.S. intelligence analysts believe the documents included a nuclear weapon design that China tested in the late 1960s and allegedly later shared with Pakistan. Reportedly, the design documents produced by Libya were transferred from Pakistan, contained information in both Chinese and English and set forth the design parameters and engineering specifications for constructing an implosion weapon weighing over 1,000 pounds that could be delivered using an aircraft or a large ballistic missile.[43] Libya ultimately told IAEA investigators that it had no national personnel competent to evaluate these designs at that time, and would have had to ask the supplier for help if it had decided to pursue a nuclear weapon.[44]

Late 2003 to 2008: Renunciation of Nuclear Weapons
At the same time that Libya pursued centrifuge technology and nuclear weapons designs, Qadhafi began to make overtures to the West in the hopes of having economic and other sanctions lifted. Reportedly, Libya had established secret communications regarding terrorist activities and WMD with the United States as early as 1999.[45] According to some analysts, the 11 September 2001 attacks, which Qadhafi denounced, and the impending U.S. invasion of Iraq increased Libya's desire to make peace with the United States.[46] In March 2003, days before the invasion of Iraq, Qadhafi's personal envoys contacted President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair about Libya's willingness to dismantle all WMD programs. Subsequently, at Qadhafi's direction, Libyan officials provided British and U.S. officers with documentation and additional details on Libya's chemical, biological, nuclear, and ballistic missile activities.[47] In August 2003, Libya accepted responsibility for the 1988 bombing of a U.S. commercial airliner, Pan Am 103, over Lockerbie, Scotland, and agreed to pay millions of dollars to each of the victims' families. In response, the UN Security Council voted to end international sanctions, but the Bush administration abstained, saying that Libya still had to answer questions about its WMD programs and meddling in African conflicts.[48]

Despite its ongoing negotiations with the West, Libya continued to procure nuclear technologies from other countries. In October 2003, British and U.S. ships operating pursuant to the U.S.-led Proliferation Security Initiative intercepted a German cargo ship heading to Libya from Dubai with a cargo of centrifuge parts allegedly based on Pakistani designs.[49] Following the seizure of the ship, Libya reportedly allowed U.S. and British officials to visit 10 previously secret sites and dozens of Libyan laboratories and military factories to search for evidence of nuclear fuel cycle-related activities, and for chemical and missile programs. Finally, on 19 December 2003 Qadhafi announced his commitment to disclose and dismantle all WMD programs in his country. In a letter to the UN Security Council, Libya reaffirmed its commitment to the NPT, agreed to abide by the Additional Protocol to the IAEA Safeguards Agreement (allowing for additional and more intrusive inspections of nuclear-related sites), and agreed to receive inspections teams to verify its new commitments.[50] President Bush stated that with Qadhafi's announcement, "Libya has begun the process of rejoining the community of nations."[51] One news source quotes Qadhafi as claiming that his decision to forego WMD programs was based on national security and economic interests. In an address to the Libyan People's National Congress, Qadhafi reportedly said, "Today it becomes a problem to have a nuclear bomb. At the time, it was maybe the fashion to have a nuclear bomb. Today, you have no enemy. Who's the enemy?"[52]

Several factors probably contributed to Libya's decision to renounce its nuclear program. First, 30 years of economic sanctions significantly limited oil exports and hurt the Libyan economy. Second, Libya's nuclear program progressed fairly slowly and at a great cost to the country, both economically and politically. [53] Third, the elimination of WMD was a prerequisite to normalizing relations with the West, and ending Libya's pariah status reportedly had become particularly important to Qadhafi. Fourth, according to some U.S. officials, Libya wanted to avoid Iraq's fate. [54] Finally, the October 2003 seizure of the ship with centrifuge-related cargo and ensuing investigations may have persuaded Libya that it would have difficulty with future WMD procurement efforts.[55]

Following the December 2003 announcement, a Libyan delegation informed the IAEA Director General that "Libya had been engaged for more than a decade in the development of a uranium enrichment capability."[56] Libya admitted to importing natural uranium, centrifuge and conversion equipment, and nuclear weapons design documents. However, Libyan officials said that the enrichment program was at an early stage of development, that no industrial scale facilities had been built, and that Libya lacked the technical know-how to interpret the weapons design documents. Libya acknowledged that some of these activities put it in violation of its IAEA Safeguards Agreement. With Libya's consent, in December 2003 and January 2004 the IAEA Director General and Agency teams made several visits to 18 locations related to possible nuclear weapons-related activities and began the process of verifying Libya's previously undeclared nuclear materials, equipment, facilities, and activities. The Agency concluded that "initial inspections of these locations did not identify specific facilities currently dedicated to nuclear weapon component manufacturing."[57] However, it also noted that further analytical and field activities would be necessary to determine how far Libya had progressed in weapons design activities.

Pursuant to understandings with the United Kingdom and the United States, Libya agreed to transfer to the United States "sensitive design information, nuclear weapon related documents, and most of the previously undeclared enrichment equipment, subject to Agency verification requirements and procedures."[58] On 22 January 2004, Libya's nuclear weapons design information, including the Chinese blueprint purchased from Pakistan, was sent to the United States, and on 26 January, U.S. transport planes carried 55,000 pounds of documents and equipment related to Libya's nuclear and ballistic missile programs to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. The nuclear portion of this shipment "included several containers of uranium hexafluoride (used as feedstock for enrichment); 2 P-2 [L-2] centrifuges from Pakistan's Khan Research Laboratories and additional centrifuge parts, equipment, and documentation."[59] In March 2004, over 1,000 additional centrifuge and missile parts were shipped out of Libya.[60] IAEA inspectors tagged and sealed most of the equipment sent to the United States, and assisted with its evaluation.

At the same time, Libya took steps to improve its participation in international nonproliferation regimes. Libya ratified the CTBT in January 2004, and 0n 18 February 2004, Libya gave the IAEA written confirmation of its intention to conclude an Additional Protocol with the Agency and to act as if the protocol had entered into force on 29 December 2003.[61]

On 8 March 2004, Russia, the United States, and the IAEA removed 16 kilograms of highly enriched uranium (HEU) fuel from Libya's Tajoura Nuclear Research Center; the HEU fuel was airlifted by a Russian company to Dimitrovgrad, where it would be down-blended into low-enriched uranium fuel. The United States would ultimately complete conversion of the Tajoura Soviet-supplied IRT-1 research reactor to the use of low enriched uranium fuel in October 2006. [62]

On 20 February 2004, the IAEA Director General issued a report on the implementation of Libya's IAEA Safeguards Agreement. [63] The report found that, "Starting in the early 1980s and continuing until the end of 2003, Libya imported nuclear material and conducted a wide variety of nuclear activities, which it had failed to report to the Agency as required under its Safeguards Agreement."[64] Such violations included failure to declare the import and storage of UF6 and other uranium compounds; failure to declare the fabrication and irradiation of uranium targets, and their subsequent processing, including the separation of a small amount of plutonium; and failure to provide design information for the pilot centrifuge facility, uranium conversion facility, and hot cells associated with the research reactor. The report also touched on support from foreign sources to Libya's program, noting that, "As part of verifying the correctness and completeness of Libya's declarations, the Agency is also investigating...the supply routes and sources of sensitive nuclear technology and related equipment and nuclear and non-nuclear materials. is evident already that a network has existed whereby actual technological know-how originates from one source, while the delivery of equipment and some of the materials have taken place through intermediaries, who have played a coordinating role, subcontracting the manufacturing to entities in yet other countries."[65]

On 10 March 2005, the IAEA Board of Governors adopted a resolution commending Libya for its cooperation with the Agency, but noting with concern the breach of its Safeguards Agreement and its acquisition of nuclear weapons designs. [66] As a result of Libya's cooperation with the IAEA, on 23 April 2005 President Bush lifted most of the remaining restrictions on doing business with Libya, although he did not remove Libya from the State Department's list of nations that support terrorism. For the first time in decades, the United States would have a diplomatic mission in Tripoli and U.S. oil companies, barred from Libya for 18 years, would have an opportunity to help develop Libya's rich oil fields. President Bush suggested that Colonel Qadhafi was beginning to meet his goal of acceptance by the international community and that his actions might serve as a model for North Korea and Iran: "Through its actions, Libya has set a standard that we hope other nations will emulate in rejecting weapons of mass destruction and in working constructively with international organizations to halt the proliferation of the world's most dangerous systems."[67]

Recent Developments and Current Status

In September 2008, then IAEA Director General Mohamed El-Baradei announced that due to its "cooperation and transparency" during the Agency's investigation, Libya would only be subject to routine IAEA inspections.[68] The conclusion of the IAEA investigation has since enabled Libya to strengthen foreign diplomatic relations and engage in bilateral agreements facilitating cooperation on nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

Libya has continued to take steps toward establishing a nuclear power infrastructure. In addition to a 2007 agreement with France, Libya has also completed nuclear cooperation agreements with Argentina, Ukraine, and Russia, and concluded a memorandum of understanding with Canada.[69] These agreements vary in the amount and type of cooperation offered. The Russian agreement is the most comprehensive, including offers to design and construct a power reactor, supply reactor fuel, and provide technology related to medical isotopes and nuclear waste disposal.[70] The United States continues to review whether it will be willing to cooperate with Libya on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.[71] As of February 2011, it is unclear whether or how ongoing political turmoil in Libya will affect the state's plans to pursue nuclear energy. [72]
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