Friday, August 18, 2017 - 07:11 am CEST
Email Email | Print Print | rss RSS | comments icon Comment |   font decrease font increase


Email Email | Print Print

post divider

Sat, March 05, 2011 | The Guardian: Document 1, Document 2, Document 3, Document 4, Document 5 and Document 6

WikiLeaks: Gaddafi Risked Nuclear Disaster in Libya after UN Slight

A potential “environmental disaster” was kept secret by the US last year when a large consignment of highly enriched uranium in Libya came close to cracking open and leaking radioactive material into the atmosphere.

The incident came after the mercurial Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, suddenly went back on a promise to dispose of the weapons-grade uranium, apparently out of pique at a diplomatic slight received in New York when he was barred from pitching a tent outside the UN.

Leaked cables show that the shipment of seven metal casks – each weighing five tonnes and only sealed for transport, not storage – were left on the tarmac of a Libyan nuclear facility with a single armed guard. As US and Russian diplomats frantically lobbied Libyan officials, scientists warned that the uranium inside the casks was highly radioactive and rapidly heating up. The material was originally part of Gaddafi’s nuclear weapons plan.

“Department of energy experts are deeply concerned by the safety and security risks,” US ambassador Gene Cretz said in a secret cable back to Washington from Tripoli. “According to the DOE experts we have one month to resolve the situation before the safety and security concerns become a crisis.

Read related article “Diplomatic cables: Gaddafi risked nuclear disaster after UN slight” in the Guardian here.


Source: WikiLeaks

Document 1: Ambassador warns of potential environmental disaster as Libya halts uranium shipment. A crisis arises when Libya unexpectedly stops a flight carrying highly-enriched uranium (HEU) to Russia. The material, which had been part of Libya’s weapons programme, was due for disposal. American officials are alarmed at the decision, and particularly at the fact that the uranium is now sitting, barely guarded and in unsuitable containers, on the runway tarmac.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009, 13:59




EO 12958 DECL: 11/25/2019
REF: Tripoli 870

TRIPOLI 00000938 001.2 OF 003

CLASSIFIED BY: Gene A. Cretz, Ambassador, U.S. Embassy Tripoli, Department of State. REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)

1. (S/NF) Summary: Following a four-day standoff, the Russian plane scheduled to remove Libya’s last remaining HEU spent fuel stores departed Libya without its cargo. Despite bilateral agreements with the U.S. and Russia — and intensive outreach efforts by the U.S. and Russian Ambassadors — Libyan officials unexpectedly refused to allow the HEU to leave the country. DOE experts are deeply concerned by the safety and security risks posed by the Libyans’ decision. The seven five-ton casks, each closed with two IAEA seals, remain at the lightly-guarded Tajoura Nuclear Facility. DOE experts requested that the GOL disengage the loading crane and provide extra armed guards, but are not confident that the GOL will take the requisite security measures. The DOE experts will brief the IAEA of their concerns, and said the IAEA could provide additional seals appropriate for long-term storage and cameras.

2. (S/NF) Summary continued: According to the DOE experts, we have one month to resolve the situation before the safety and security concerns become a crisis. They believe Russia could provide another plane to remove the HEU in late December, at which point the casks must be moved to their next location. If the HEU is not removed from the casks within three months, its rising temperature could cause the casks to crack and to release radioactive nuclear material. If the HEU is not sent to Russia, the Russians would be required to develop entirely new technology to remove the spent fuel from the casks in Libya. Security concerns alone dictate that we must employ all of our resources to find a timely solution to this problem, and to keep any mention of it out of the press. End summary.


3. (S/NF) On November 20 the GOL unexpectedly ordered a team of visiting Department of Energy and Russian (from Rostom Kirienko) officials to halt preparations of Libya’s 5.2 kilograms of highly enriched uranium (HEU) fuel to ship to Russia for treatment and disposal, in spite of the government-to-government agreement signed by Libya and the United States on October 28 and a parallel agreement with the Russian government (reftel). Dr. Ali Gashut, Director of the Libyan Atomic Energy Establishment, sent the instruction by phone through the Director of the Tajoura Nuclear Facility, specifying that Gashut had been “instructed” to delay the arrival of the plane that would transport the fuel to Russia. [Note: At that time, the Libyan engineers at Tajoura indicated to DOE experts that the instruction was coming from PM al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi’s office. End note.] The plane, a Russian Antonov 124-100, was scheduled to arrive on November 21, with loading to take place during the night of November 21, for shipment on November 22. Although the Russian crew already had official Libyan permission to land on November 21, Gashut told the DOE and Russian teams, via his staff, that the Libyan government did not approve the landing and asked that the plane be delayed. The teams delayed arrival of the plane until November 23. After several days on the ground without a change in the GOL’s position, the Russian plane and team from Rostom Kirienko departed early in the morning of November 25 without the shipment.

4. (S/NF) Since November 20, the Ambassador and emboffs have engaged Foreign Ministry officials, the National Security Advisor’s (NSA) office, the PM’s office, Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi’s staff, and Muammar al-Qadhafi’s staff, seeking an explanation and reversal of the GOL’s last-minute decision to halt the shipment. Foreign Ministry and NSA officials pledged to communicate the problems to Foreign Minister Musa Kusa and National Security Advisor, Mutassim al-Qadhafi, respectively. The Ambassador has also maintained close communication with the Russian Ambassador on the situation. One official insisted to the Ambassador that the Foreign Ministry had done everything “by the book” to prepare for the fuel transfer to move forward on November 21 and could not imagine what could have gone wrong. He claimed that Musa Kusa was briefed on the situation but that “Gashut reports directly to the PM’s office.” Salem Hamza, Special Advisor to National Security Advisor Mutassim al-Qadhafi, also claimed to have briefed his boss on the issue and that he did not know what was holding up the program.


5. (S/NF) On November 25, the DOE team briefed the Ambassador and emboffs on their concerns about the security of the HEU in its present state and next steps. The 5.2 kilograms of HEU are stored in seven five-ton casks, which the DOE experts said are “highly transportable.” The casks currently are at the lightly-guarded Tajoura Nuclear Facility, closed with two IAEA seals that are adequate only for transportation, not storage. The team asked the Director of the Tajoura facility to disengage the site’s loading crane, in order to prevent an intruder from using it to move the casks. They also asked that extra human security be added onsite, stating that the last time they were at Tajoura, on November 24, they only saw one security guard with a gun (although they did not know if it was loaded). The team plans to brief the IAEA about the situation and to express concern about the security of the fuel. They said it was possible that the IAEA would provide additional seals and/or cameras to increase the casks’ security.

6. (S/NF) According to the DOE experts, we have approximately one month to resolve the situation, before the safety and security concerns posed by the delayed shipment reach the level of a crisis. The casks in which the Libyan HEU is stored must be moved to their next location at the end of December. The DOE experts believe that the Russians could provide another plane to transport that shipment during that timeframe. However, if the Libyans refuse to allow the shipment to go forward, the Russian experts would be required to design new technology to remove the spent fuel from the casks and put it back into the ponds at Tajoura. DOE experts stressed that this would be an unprecedented operation. They also stated that the spent fuel must be either shipped to Russia or removed from the casks in the next three months. At that point, the temperature of the HEU fuel, which is radioactive, could reach such a level to cause cracking on the casks and release of radioactive nuclear material. The team stated that their Russian counterparts are deeply concerned about liability if the radioactive material leaks from the transportation casks.


7. (S/NF) If the Libyans can be persuaded to allow the transfer to proceed, the DOE team will work with Russian counterparts to schedule another visit by the Russian plane for transportation of the fuel, which the team estimated could take up to a month (that will require the reissuance of overflight and entry permits for Turkey, Greece, and Libya, as well as cancellation of other transport contracts that the plane already has scheduled). Absent Libya’s agreement to allow the shipment to move forward, the DOE and Russian team will resort to designing and manufacturing the technology that would be necessary to unload the fuel casks remotely at the Tajoura facility.


8. (S/NF) Security concerns dictate that we must deploy all of our resources to find a solution to this problem. The Ambassador continues to seek an urgent meeting with the Libyan Foreign Minister and other senior officials to press for a resolution and to obtain information about what instigated the Libyan decision to halt progress on the fuel shipment. The Russian Ambassador has also been trying to meet with any of several high-level officials, but has been ignored. The situation has been complicated by a state visit by the Turkish PM as well as other visits, and the onset of the Eid al-Adha holiday, which began here today and extends for four days. The Russians did manage to convey a letter from Vice FM Sultanov on November 24, urging the GOL to let the shipment take place. If further efforts fail over the next few days, it may be necessary to consider a senior-level official call to Muammar al-Qadhafi to stress the urgency of the situation and the high degree of concern about the possibility of Libya’s backtracking on its nuclear nonproliferation commitments. Lacking any other information, we have to assume that the Libyan leader is the source of the problem at this point

9. (S/NF) Security concerns also dictate that we handle this issue with the utmost discretion. Given the highly transportable nature of the HEU and the shoddy security at Tajoura, any mention of this issue in the press could pose serious security concerns. We strongly urge that any press inquiries be addressed with a no comment — or a more general reply along the lines of: The U.S. and the international community continue to work with the Government of Libya to address its WMD commitments. End comment.



Source: WikiLeaks

Document 2: Gaddafi’s son links uranium crisis to father’s ‘humiliation’ in New York. American diplomats seeking to understand why Libya has suddenly called off a dispatch of weapons-grade uranium to Russia find an unexpected answer. It seems that Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, cancelled the flight because of perceived affronts during a visit to the United Nations.

Monday, 30 November 2009, 17:19




EO 12958 DECL: 11/30/2019

CLASSIFIED BY: Joan A. Polaschik, Charge d’Affaires, U.S. Embassy Tripoli, Department of State. REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)

1. This is an action request; see para 13.

2. (S/NF) Summary: Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi told the Ambassador November 27 that Libya had halted the shipment of its final HEU stockpiles because it was “fed up” with the slow pace of bilateral engagement. Saif claimed that Libya had not received the “compensation” it was promised in exchange for an end to its WMD programs, including cooperation in the military, security, nonproliferation, civilian-nuclear, and economic spheres. Libya sought a high-level reaffirmation of the United States’ commitment to the bilateral relationship, in the form of a message to Libyan leader Muammar al-Qadhafi, in order to move forward on the HEU shipment. Saif al-Islam, who claimed that he was “back” on the U.S. portfolio, said his father did not want to move back to “square one” and wanted to develop a positive relationship with the new U.S. Administration. The Ambassador underscored the gravity of the situation and noted that the Libyan Government had chosen a very dangerous venue to express its pique. He also noted that many of the holdups in the bilateral relationship had been due to Libyan political missteps and bureaucratic bungling. The Ambassador told Saif he would try to get some kind of statement along the lines requested, but the HEU shipment should in no way be held hostage to any specific actions beyond that. Saif assured the Ambassador that once that message was conveyed to Tripoli, he would immediately “fix” the problem. End Summary.

3. (S/NF) Once again exhibiting their flair for the dramatic, and after almost one week of stonewalling regarding the decision to not allow the departure of the HEU shipment to Russia, the Libyan leadership authorized a meeting between Saif al-Islam (accompanied by an assistant) and the Ambassador (accompanied by Pol-Econ Counselor) as the Ambassador was departing for the airport to travel to Washington. During the November 27 meeting, the Ambassador expressed his deep concern about Libya’s decision to halt shipment of its remaining Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) stockpile to Russia for treatment and disposal. The Ambassador said that Libya’s WMD commitments were the cornerstone of the relationship, and the last-minute, unexplained disapproval of the shipment seemed to renege on those commitments. He emphasized that the Libyans must move forward with the shipment as soon as possible, for security reasons and to preserve the bilateral relationship. The Ambassador pressed Saif to explain why the shipment was held up and insisted that the Libyans must improve communication in times of crisis, stating that Libyan officials cannot simply ignore calls from high-level USG officials and refuse to explain their decisions that negatively affect bilateral interests. This was no way to conduct a relationship. The decision to halt the shipment and create this crisis was intensified by the timing and the international context, given the President’s focus on non-proliferation and the problems engendered by Iran. By its actions, Libya was jeopardizing its relationship with the whole international community.

4. (S/NF) Saif al-Islam explicitly linked Libya’s decision to halt the HEU shipment to its dissatisfaction with the U.S. relationship. Saif said the shipment was halted because the regime was “fed up” with the pace of the relationship and what it perceived as a backing-out of commitments to bilateral cooperation. The areas of specific concern were Libya’s purchase of military equipment (non-lethal and lethal weapons), an update on what was being done with Libya’s centrifuges, movement on the Regional Nuclear Medicine Center, and financial assistance for the chemical weapons destruction program, including construction of the destruction facility. Saif pledged to solve the HEU crisis and to allow the shipment to move forward as early as next week if the USG expressed a renewed commitment to the relationship and to deeper engagement. Saif noted that the message needed to be conveyed to (or addressed to) Libyan Leader Muammar al-Qadhafi.

5. (S/NF) Saif continued that prevailing domestic opinion and conservative forces were critical of Libya’s decision to dismantle its nuclear weapons program. Noting that he personally had played an important role in Libya’s re-engagement with the West, Saif asserted that “If something goes wrong, people will blame me, whether I am in a certain official position or not.” Saif stated that Libya’s decision to give up its WMD programs was contingent upon “compensation” from the U.S., including the purchase of conventional weapons and non-conventional military equipment; security cooperation; military cooperation; civil-nuclear cooperation and assistance, to include the building of a Regional Nuclear Medicine Facility; and the end of “double taxation” and economic cooperation, such as the signing of a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA).

6. (S/NF) Saif noted that Libya was a small, rich country, surrounded by large, powerful, poorer neighbors. Yet Libya, the only Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) signatory in the region, had given up all of its conventional weapons and could not purchase replacement systems or military equipment from the United States. He highlighted Egypt, a non-MTCR signatory, as an example of a neighboring country that receives millions of dollars in U.S. aid and military assistance but did not have to share Libya’s nonproliferation commitments. Relative to such neighbors, Libya’s decision to dismantle its nuclear programs had weakened its ability to defend itself. He stated, “We share rich natural resources — oil and gas — along the borders, yet we have no capacity to defend that wealth.” Saif complained that Libya could not purchase conventional weapons from the United States or even from Sweden or Germany due to U.S. holds on the sale of those weapons to Libya — “even until now, seven years later, there is an embargo on Libya’s purchase of lethal equipment.” He specifically mentioned a problem purchasing “Tiger” vehicles outfitted with American-manufactured engines from Jordan, due to a U.S. legal restriction on Libya’s purchase of American-equipment.

7. (S/NF) Inquiring about the status of the centrifuges Libya gave up as part of its WMD commitments, Saif argued that the U.S. had used the “deal” as a public relations coup for the previous administration. He said that the fact that the centrifuges were sent to the United States and are still there, rather than under IAEA surveillance and control was a “big insult to the Leader.” The fact that Libya was never “compensated” for the centrifuges added to the insult. In addition to the centrifuge problem, he complained that Libya had to pay for the destruction of its chemical weapons. Saif insisted that Libya was not able to pay to destroy its chemical weapons stock, noting that the construction of the destruction facility alone was estimated to cost US $25 million. For these and other reasons relating to “non-compensation” for WMD decisions, he stated that certain voices in Libya were pressuring the Leader to withdraw from the MTCR agreement. He lamented that “slowly, slowly, we are moving backward rather than forward.” He told the Ambassador that in order for the relationship to progress, the U.S. needed to make a move. “The ball is in your court,” Saif urged.

8. (S/NF) Continuing his lament, Saif said the U.S.-Libya relationship was “not going well.” Since his last visit to the United States in 2008, Saif said that both sides had deviated from the roadmap that had been agreed upon at that time, which specified cooperation in the military, security, nonproliferation, civilian-nuclear, and economic spheres. He asserted that the roadmap had gotten “lost” due to his own “disappearance” from the political scene and “preoccupation with other issues overseas.” He acknowledged that he was disconnected for a long time but that he was back on the political scene — although he was careful to caveat that he had not yet accepted an official role in the regime.

9. (S/NF) Saif raised a few recent incidents that he argued illustrated how things were going wrong. First, he pointed to Muammar al-Qadhafi’s recent trip to New York, which in Saif’s opinion had not gone well, because of the “tent and residence issues and his [pere Qadhafi’s] inability to visit ground zero.” He said that all three issues had been complicated by local U.S. authorities and had humiliated the Libyan leader — “even tourists can see ground zero without permission, but a Head of State cannot?” Secondly, Saif believed that his father’s UNGA speech had been misinterpreted by U.S. audiences; he specifically focused on statements involving moving the UN Headquarters outside of the United States and various assassination investigations (JFK, Rafik al-Hariri, etc.). Saif stated that the elder Qadhafi meant no offense by his statements, but was merely trying to “pave the way” for any future decisions that POTUS might make related to those issues. Lastly, Saif noted that the Libyan leader was worried about U.S. intervention in Africa. The elder Qadhafi was also against the linguistic and political division of Africa into “North” and “Sub-Saharan” Africa and wanted countries such as the United States to treat Africa as a single entity rather than two blocs.

10. (S/NF) Saif said that Muammar al-Qadhafi was serious about deepening engagement with the United States and establishing a relationship with the Obama Administration. Saif said that his father did not want to “go back to square one,” but wanted to move the bilateral relationship forward. Saif emphasized the Libyan leader’s interest in meeting POTUS in a third country if a meeting in the United States was not possible. Such a meeting would help overcome the negative history that our nations shared, would support the rebuilding of trust, and might even help with U.S. Embassy operations and activities in Libya, according to Saif.

11. (S/NF) The Ambassador noted that the relationship had seen several advancements and several serious setbacks since Saif’s last visit to the United States, including the August 20 hero’s welcome accorded to Lockerbie bomber Abdel Basset al-Megrahi by Saif himself. Megrahi’s return had severely offended American sensitivities and renewed tensions that set the relationship back. Until that point, there had been significant progress, with a military-to-military agreement signed in January and the positive April visit of National Security Advisor Mutassim al-Qadhafi and his meeting with the Secretary. Although the death of Fathi el-Jahmi had been a setback to the relationship, the U.S. and Libya had found a productive way forward through the establishment of a bilateral Human Rights Dialogue. Regarding concerns about U.S. intervention in Africa, the Ambassador reminded Saif that Colonel Qadhafi and General Ward had had what we believed to be a very productive meeting several months ago, which we had hoped would have dispelled any concerns the Libyans had about U.S. intentions in Africa. The Ambassador explained that Americans were hoping for a more forward-leaning statement by Muammar al-Qadhafi in New York but instead heard a series of remarks that were not agreeable to the American public. As a result, the relationship has been placed on a “low-burner” since August.

12. (S/NF) In spite of these issues, the Ambassador said the U.S. had managed to keep moving ahead in the areas of security, military, political, civilian-nuclear, and economic cooperation. However, many of the delays in implementation were due to Libya’s opaque bureaucracy. The Section 505 end user agreement, for example, had languished in the GOL for months, as had Libya’s response on TIFA. Libya’s slow-rolling on visa approvals for official American travelers had delayed movement in areas such as civilian-nuclear cooperation and on the Regional Nuclear Medicine Facility.

13. (S/NF) Saif acknowledged that he was disconnected for a long time from the bilateral relationship and recognized that the hero’s welcome for Megrahi had set engagement back. He reiterated that he was “back” on the scene and could serve as the “trouble-shooter” for any future problems. He urged the Ambassador to contact his office directly in times of crisis. He also promised to resolve the visa issue, stating that he understood the importance of a transparent and reliable system of issuance. In their one-on-one discussion afterwards, the Ambassador asked Saif to explain his actions when he accompanied Megrahi back to Tripoli. Saif said he knew what the reaction in the West would be, but that it did not constitute an “official” welcome. He had worked on the release for a long time, he was not a public official, and there were no international media like Al Jazeera present. In addition, Saif claimed that the Libyans would someday find a way to show that Megrahi was innocent. The Ambassador reiterated the damage the welcome had done and said no amount of justification could undo that. Saif nodded his understanding. Saif also replied that if he is confirmed in his new position, he was as yet not sure whether he would retain his current position as head of the Qadhafi Development Foundation.


14. (S/NF) The Libyan Government has chosen a very dangerous issue on which to express its apparent pique about perceived problems in the bilateral relationship, a point the Ambassador underscored with Saif al-Islam. If Saif is to be believed, it appears we might have a way forward. If the Department is willing, we would urge a phone call from the Secretary to Musa Kusa with a message for Colonel Qadhafi comprising a general statement of commitment to the relationship, a commitment to work with the Libyans to move the relationship ahead, and a strong point insisting that the HEU shipment be allowed to go forward immediately and not be held hostage to any further actions.


15. (S/NF) Saif met the Ambassdor in an office on the Bab Al-Aziziya compound. The office was filled with books, including a high stack of art and interior design books and several brochures distributed by the Embassy’s Public Affairs Section. Saif conducted the meeting in English. He was accompanied by his personal assistant, Mohamed Ismail Ahmed (DOB 07/06/1968), who said that he was born in Alexandria, Egypt, and spent his childhood years traveling abroad with his diplomat father, including in Afghanistan in the late 1970s, where he attended the American School. Ahmed was soft-spoken and spoke fluent English. He asked Pol/Econ chief to provide him with additional information on the status of Libya’s military procurement requests and Letters of Offer and Assistance (LOA’s).



Source: WikiLeaks

Document 3: US diplomats press Libyans on stalled uranium shipment. American officials are alarmed at the presence of large amounts of highly enriched uranium (HEU) on a Libyan runway, which they think present an environmental and security threat. They make frequent and varied approaches to Libyan officialdom to try to resolve the situation.

Tuesday, 01 December 2009, 17:28

S E C R E T TRIPOLI 000943



EO 12958 DECL: 12/1/2019

CLASSIFIED BY: Joan A. Polaschik, Charge d’Affaires, U.S. Embassy Tripoli, Department of State. REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)

1. (S/NF) Pol/Econ Chief met MFA Americas Acting A/S-equivalent Mohamed Matari December 1 to convey our serious concerns about the security of the seven HEU-filled casks at the Tajoura Nuclear Facility. Matari dismissed U.S. concerns, stating there was “no one sophisticated enough” in Libya to be able to do anything with the casks and that the chances of anything happening were very low. He mentioned the IAEA seals as evidence that the fuel was protected (Ref A). Pol/Econ Chief underscored that the GOL should be concerned about the situation, as the casks were easily transportable and Tajoura was a poorly protected facility. U.S. DOE specialists had recommended an increased security guard presence — armed if possible — around Tajoura and the disengagement of the crane inside the facility. Pol/Econ Chief emphasized that the casks were easily transportable, and advised him not to be too dismissive of the security risks involved in keeping the casks unprotected. Matari said that he would meet with Foreign Minister Musa Kusa today to relay our concerns.

2. (S/NF) Pol/Econ Chief also described the environmental disaster that could take place if we did not ship the casks to Russia for disposal within a month. The U.S. needed a decision from the Libyan side as soon as possible on the shipment, as it would take time to reschedule the travel of the specialized Russian plane, including overflight permits, landing permits, and negotiating with the Russian MFA to cancel other scheduled stops. Matari was not aware of how complicated it would be to schedule a return visit of the plane, although he understood that only a few such planes exist in the world. He said he agreed that a decision needed to be passed to us within a few weeks.

3. (S/NF) Matari was not aware that Dr. Gashut claimed to have prepared a document for senior regime officials listing all of the environmental dangers associated with holding the shipment back. Matari said that Gashut probably gave the paper to Prime Mininster-equivalent al-Baghdad al-Mahmoudi (Gashut’s boss) but did not think it had been passed to the MFA. (Matari may well have been unaware of any communications between Gashut and Kusa on this issue.) Matari promised to call us after he had briefed Kusa.

4. (S/NF) We also are seeking a meeting with Saif al-Islam al-Qadhaif’s aide Mohamed Ismail Ahmed to relay the same information, in hopes of ensuring that senior Libyan officials understand the grave security and safety risks posed by the halted shipment.



Source: WikiLeaks

Document 4: Libyans finally up security on runway-bound uranium shipment. A tense stand-off has been in place for weeks over a shipment of highly-enriched uranium on a runway in Libya. In this dispatch, a US diplomat reports that although the weapons-grade material remains on the tarmac, the Libyans have at least increased security around it.

Monday, 07 December 2009, 16:14




EO 12958 DECL: 12/7/2019

CLASSIFIED BY: Joan A. Polaschik, Charge d’Affaires, U.S. Embassy Tripoli, Department of State. REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)

1. (S/NF) Summary: Visiting DOE experts confirmed December 6 that the Libyan Government had taken the requisite steps to increase the security of the seven casks of HEU, and that the contents — and IAEA seals — remained unchanged since the shipment was halted November 25. The Libyan Government has not yet provided guidance to its nuclear scientists regarding next steps on the shipment, but Libyan scientists are developing contingency plans to remove the HEU from the casks in Libya in the event the casks must be returned empty to Russia. DOE experts estimate that Libyan approval must be received by December 10 in order for the shipment to be completed by the end of December. Separately, a close aide to Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi indicated that the Secretary’s message to Libyan FM Musa Kusa had been positively received and passed to the “highest levels” of the Libyan Government. The aide also indicated that Kusa would call the Secretary in the “coming days” to assure her that the Libyan Government had approved the shipment. We continue to underscore with Libyan officials the need to resolve this issue. End summary.


2. (S/NF) Visiting DOE experts confirmed December 6 that the Libyan Government had taken the requisite steps to increase security at the Tajura Nuclear Facility, and that the seven casks of highly enriched uranium (HEU) appeared to have remained unchanged since the planned shipment to Russia was halted on November 25 (ref a). The DOE experts reported a visible increase in the number of armed guards surrounding the facility. They also confirmed that Tajura staff had disengaged the crane within the facility and had assured the team that a new, unassembled crane would not be built until after the shipment had taken place. DOE’s measurements of the spent fuel within the casks determined that the content had remained unchanged. Likewise, the IAEA seals on each cask remained in place and uncompromised.


3. (S/NF) The DOE team also reported that Libyan technical specialists at Tajura had not yet received guidance from the Libyan Government on next steps regarding the shipment. Dr. Ali Gashut, Head of Libya’s Atomic Energy Establishment, confirmed this information in a December 7 telcon with the DOE team. The team also reported that although the Libyan Government had sent the Russian Government a diplomatic note confirming that the GOL would complete its contract to return the casks to Russia by the end of the calendar year, the note did not specify whether the casks would be returned empty or with the HEU spent fuel shipment. The DOE team assessed the diplomatic note as an attempt to mollify Russian demands that the casks be returned.


4. (S/NF) The DOE team estimated that the GOL must give its approval to move forward on the shipment by December 10 in order for the shipment to take place by the end of December. The DOE experts emphasized that significant lead time is required in order set up the necessary logistical arrangements, permits and overflight clearances for the specialized Russian plane to return to Tripoli and transport the HEU to Russia.

5. (S/NF) The DOE team reported that Russian engineers had begun to design a remote-controlled grapple to be used in the event that the HEU spent fuel must be off-loaded from the casks in Libya. Tajura staff told the DOE experts that, if GOL approval for the shipment was not forthcoming by December 10, the Tajura staff planned to start training on how to use the grapple to off-load the casks. (According to DOE experts, spent nuclear fuel has never been removed from casks for restorage; the removal of the spent fuel in Libya would be an unprecedented initiative.) DOE experts also commented that the return of the empty casks to Russia, if necessary, would be best done by boat and said they are developing contingency plans for that scenario.


6. (S/NF) Separately, emboffs have attempted to seek clarification of the Libyan Government’s next steps regarding the HEU shipment. Mohamed Ismail Ahmed, Chief of Staff of Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi, told Pol/Econ Chief that the Secretary’s December 3 call to Libyan Foreign Minister Musa Kusa had expressed the statement of commitment requested by Saif during his recent meeting with the Ambassador (ref b), and that Kusa had passed the message to the “highest levels” of the Libyan Government. Ahmed emphasized that Saif had made a “commitment” to the Ambassador to ensure that the HEU shipment would be approved by the Libyan Government, and “Saif will follow-through on that commitment.” Ahmed said Kusa intended to call the Secretary within the “coming days” in order to personally assure her that the GOL had approved the shipment. Emboffs also briefed Ahmed and MFA officials on the requisite timeline and lengthy logistical preparations needed to ensure the spent fuel’s transfer to Russia by the end of the year.


7. (S/NF) Ahmed’s comments indicate that the Secretary’s message to Kusa was positively received. A flurry of phone calls between DOE and Libyan experts today also indicated that working-level Libyan officials are seeking more time to resolve the issue, as the Libyans successfully convinced the DOE experts to extend the deadline for a Libyan decision by two days, to December 10 (the initial deadline proposed by DOE was December 8). At this point, we are interpreting the Libyan experts’ technical preparations for a possible unloading of the casks in Libya as the contingency planning required to address the very real safety and security concerns raised by the halted shipment. We will reassess that view on December 10, and will continue to underscore with Libyan officials the need for a resolution of the issue this week.



Source: WikiLeaks

Document 5: Departure of uranium shipment brings month-long Libyan crisis to a close. Libya’s nuclear weapons programme is finally dismantled as a shipment of highly-enriched uranium is allowed to leave for Russia. This brings to a close a more immediate crisis; the flight should have left four weeks earlier but has been held on the runway, to the dismay of US diplomats who feared the environmental and security implications.

Monday, 21 December 2009, 16:26

S E C R E T TRIPOLI 001025



EO 12958 DECL: 12/21/2019

CLASSIFIED BY: Gene Cretz, Ambassador, U.S. Embassy Tripoli, U.S. Department of State. REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)

1. (S/NF) On December 21 at 0515, a Russian-chartered plane took off from Tripoli with the seven casks containing Libya’s final Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) spent fuel stocks. Department of Energy (DOE) staff in Tripoli confirmed that the flight arrived in Russia at 11:15 local time. Today’s flight marked the successful completion of Libya’s commitments to dismantle its nuclear weapons programs.

2. (S/NF) Visiting DOE staff reported that the loading of the casks the overnight on December 20-21 went smoothly. They said that Libyan officials at Tajoura Nuclear Center provided no insights into the reasons behind the GOL’s last-minute decision to cancel the planned November 25 shipment (ref a) or to put it back on track via a letter to Russian authorities on December 15 (ref b). DOE staff said the month-long impasse had taken a visible toll on Dr. Ali Gashut, the head of the Libyan Atomic Energy Establishment. Gashut seemed “embarrassed” and “different,” and commented that he had spent a lot of time “waiting in ministry halls,” presumably as the GOL debated policy options. The director of the Tajura Nuclear Center, Engineer Ahmed al-Habrush, was personally present for the loading of the casks and signed all the required documents for handing over the HEU.

3. (S/NF) In reference to queries made by Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi regarding the disposition of Libya’s centrifuges that were handed over to the U.S. (Ref C), the DOE visitors noted that any centrifuges that were sent to the U.S. were destroyed and could not be could be returned to Libya in their original form. If the Libyans were referring to other materiel, such as high efficient machinery, some equipment was moved to the U.S. and some was left in Libya to be used for peaceful purposes such for medical uses.

4. (SNF) The Ambassador would like to thank the DOE team – Kelly Cummins, Igor Bolshinsky, and Stan Moses – for their efforts to resolve this issue. Their on-the-ground, expert analysis ensured that the Embassy was fully apprised of all of the technical details, and their clear explanation of the complex timelines and constraints helped ensure a timely resolution. We are very grateful for their work.



Source: WikiLeaks

Document 6: Libyans blame hold-up in Scud missile destruction on US and UK. A disagreement arisess over Libya’s programme to dismantle its stock of Scud missiles. Libya believes the US and UK promised to find a suitable replacement, and resists dismantling its Scud armoury until the replacement arrives.

Thursday, 11 February 2010, 15:54




EO 12958 DECL: 2/11/2020
REF: A) State 11501; B) 09 Tripoli 753; C) 09 Tripoli 960
TRIPOLI 00000115 001.2 OF 002

CLASSIFIED BY: Gene A. Cretz, Ambassador, U.S. Embassy Tripoli, Department of State. REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)

1. (U) This is an action request; see para 8.

2. (S) Summary: In a February 9 meeting with the Ambassador, the head of Libya’s Scud B destruction program, General Ahmed Azwai, insisted that the USG was mostly responsible for Libya’s delayed fulfillment of Scud B destruction commitments. Azwai blamed the USG for hampering Libyan efforts to find a Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR)-compliant alternative weapons system to replace its Scud B stock and refused to discuss a destruction timeline until Libya acquires a replacement system. The Libyans passionately believe that the U.S. committed to assisting in the search for an alternative weapons system, and they want the U.S. to fulfill that commitment. Azwai indicated that Libya still wants to purchase the Russian Iskander missile that Libya originally proposed (ideally at the originally stipulated purchase price), but said that it is up to the U.S. to decide whether that is acceptable — if not, then he believes the U.S. should find an acceptable alternative. Azwai made no mention of the French Scalp missile or any other proposed alternatives during the meeting, suggesting that the Scalp proposal may have been an independent move by Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi. Azwai requested U.S. support for Libya’s bid for MTCR membership. End Summary.


3. (S) General Ahmed Azwai, head of Libya’s Scud B destruction program, met with the Ambassador, accompanied by Pol/Econ Chief, on February 9 to reiterate Libya’s expectations that the USG identify a suitable alternative to the Scud B system. (Note: The meeting was scheduled in response to a September 2009 Embassy request for a status update on Libya’s MTCR-related commitments. End note.) Azwai, joined by Tajuri al-Shiradi of the MFA’s International Organizations office, as well as Libya’s “Rocket Committee,” reviewed the history of U.S.-Libya negotiations on the elimination of Libya’s Scud Bs and insisted that the 2004 trilateral agreement included “promises by the U.S. and UK to find a replacement for the Scud B system.” Referencing an English language version of the agreement that Azwai provided, the Ambassador explained that the wording did not commit the U.S. or UK to find a replacement system, but noted that we had in fact suggested alternative missile systems in the past, which Libya refused.

4. (S) Azwai insisted that the language of the agreement obligates the U.S. and UK to help Libya find a suitable replacement system. Azwai argued that instead of helping Libya fulfill its commitments, the U.S. had thrown obstacles in Libya’s way, first by initially rejecting Libya’s request to purchase Iskander missiles from Russia and then by delaying the sale by stalling the approval process. Azwai noted that Libya had already signed a contract with Russia to purchase the Iskander missiles when the U.S. objected (he asserted that the UK had assented to the sale). “The process dragged on for two years, and we could not wait that long~and now, we still do not have an acceptable alternative,” he said. According to Azwai, the two other systems the U.S. suggested — one from Ukraine and another from Russia — were both “unacceptable alternatives” due to the technical and range specifications needed to guarantee Libya’s national security. “We must have a replacement system,” he stated. “I will not allow 12,000 Libyan soldiers to remain unarmed and vulnerable. If I give up their weapons before I have a replacement, they will turn on me.” He argued that Libya had already given up some of its rocket systems and codes and did not intend to give up any more until it could replace its current stock.


5. (S) While Azwai told the Ambassador that Libya was “actively looking” for an alternative system, he believes that the Iskander system originally proposed by the Libyan side is still the best alternative to Libya’s Scud Bs. However, according to the Rockets Committee, the price of that system has increased by one hundred percent. Azwai expressed Libya’s continued desire to purchase the Iskander missile at a lower price than that which the Russians were currently offering, and he sought U.S. approval for such a purchase. “In the beginning,” he commented, “we were hoping for a U.S. system, but you said there was none.” He continued that “the only friend for Libya is Russia on

TRIPOLI 00000115 002.2 OF 002

weapons sales.” (Azwai did not mention the French Scalp system that Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi’s staff raised with Emboffs in November 2009, suggesting that the proposal may have been an independent move by Saif.) Azwai emphasized that he expected the U.S. to suggest viable alternatives, and for those suggestions to be offered either in writing or in the context of another meeting with him.

6. (S) The Ambassador asked whether Libya had begun to develop a timeline for the destruction of its Scud B missiles and suggested that a U.S. technical team come to Tripoli to discuss destruction plans. Per reftel guidance, the Ambassador offered that the USG could support Libya’s Scud B destruction with technical and financial assistance. Initially Azwai refused to discuss destruction plans until an alternative system has been identified, but as the Ambassador reiterated his points, Azwai asked that the Rocket Committee make note of the U.S. offer. He asked whether the U.S. would fund destruction “one hundred percent,” or partially, snidely remarking that “we Libyans need to be careful about what the American offers really mean.” He underscored that Libya “will not think about destruction until you [the U.S.] fulfill your commitment.” Azwai said that he would not be willing to discuss destruction until after a contract for a replacement system was signed. Furthermore, since the Libyans perceive the delays in meeting Libya’s MTCR commitments as rooted in U.S. inaction on the issue, Azwai demanded that Libya receive an extension on its MTCR-commitment deadline.


7. (S) Azwai further complained that the United States had not supported Libya’s recent bids to become a full MTCR member. Members of the Rocket Committee specified that they had requested support from several embassies in Libya, with the exception of the United States, but had also requested support in Paris, at the most recent MTCR meetings. Azwai said that Libya had fulfilled the stipulations the MTCR committee required for membership, including adopting new legislation, but still could not obtain full membership. He inferred that the U.S. was part of the reason Libya’s membership was blocked. The Ambassador highlighted that the USG could not act on a request that was not directly raised with us and advised the Rocket Committee to send an official request for U.S. support of Libya’s membership in order for it to be considered in Washington. Azwai agreed to do so.


8. (S/NF) This meeting revealed what appears to be a fundamental misunderstanding regarding the terms and obligations of the involved parties of the 2004 trilateral Scud B disposition agreement. Azwai was adamant that the U.S. was obliged to help Libya identify a Scud B replacement system and made it clear that, unless we do, he has no intention of moving forward on destruction. It is unclear whether Azwai’s position is based on a concrete Libyan legal interpretation of the 2004 agreement or a purely political assessment that Libya has gotten less than it was promised during the 2003-2004 negotiations regarding its WMD programs. We have been hearing the latter with increasing frequency from the highest levels of the Libyan government, including Libyan leader Muammar al-Qadhafi. It is clear that further discussions — either at the expert or political level — will be required in order to make progress on the replacement and destruction issues. The Department’s guidance on next steps on these issues, as well as Libya’s MTCR membership bid, is requested.


6 Comments to “WikiLeaks: Gaddafi Risked Nuclear Disaster in Libya after UN Slight”

  1. #WikiLeaks: #Gaddafi Risked #Nuclear Disaster in #Libya after #UN Slight |

  2. avatar Elisabeth says:

    RT @CrethiPlethi: #WikiLeaks: #Gaddafi Risked #Nuclear Disaster in #Libya after #UN Slight |

  3. avatar Eva Miranda says:

    WikiLeaks: Gaddafi Risked Nuclear Disaster in Libya after UN …: DOE experts requested that the GOL disengage t…

  4. @WikiLeaks: Gaddafi Risked Nuclear Disaster in Libya after UN Slight |

  5. avatar USINPAC says:

    The Japan disaster is a rare event, and the use of nuclear energy cannot be eliminated out of fear of such incidents. What is important, is to ensure that all security and response mechanisms are in place and all nuclear installations are equipped to deal with any human or natural disasters.

  6. @acarvin Tajoura has nuclear facil that may have enough material for a dirty bomb – per wikileaks – cd be interdiction


Quotes and Sayings

About the Region, Islam and cultural totalitarianism...

    Israel is a colonialist-imperialist phenomenon. There is no such thing as an Israeli people. Before 1948, world geography knew of no state such as Israel. Israel is the result of an invasion, of aggression.

    — Muammar al-Gaddafi, Interview with Time magazine; April 9, 1979

Weather Forecast

Middle East region weather forecast...

  • Show forecast for:
    18 August 2017, 08:11
    4 km/h
    real feel: 21°C
    current pressure: 1010 mb
    humidity: 75%
    wind speed: 4 km/h W
    wind gusts: 7 km/h
    sunrise: 06:06
    sunset: 19:19
    More forecast...