IAEA team visits Libyan sites

30 December 2003
A team headed by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director general, Mohammed el-Baradei, concluded a preliminary visit to nuclear sites in and around Tripoli on 29 December. During his visit, El-Baradei met with senior officials in the capital, including Foreign Affairs Minister Abdel Rahman Shalgham and deputy prime minister Matooq Mohammed Matooq, Iran's representative at the IAEA.

After initial meetings with the Libyan authorities, El-Baradei said that Libya had been co-operative. 'Libya has shown a good deal of co-operation, a good deal of openness,' he said. 'Libya committed today to act as if the [yet to be signed] protocol was in force.' El-Baradei added he believed that Libya had not been close to making a bomb. 'Minister Shalgham has assured me - that Libya will co-operate with [the IAEA] with full transparency, will lend its full co-operation to our activities, and I am very pleased to hear that,' El-Baradei told reporters before returning to Vienna.

IAEA spokesman Mark Gwozdecky said officials needed to know the exact nature of Libya's nuclear programme as soon as possible. '[Libya] admitted to having a small uranium centrifuge program and to have worked on uranium conversion activities,' he said. 'We are not sure what other elements they may have had, but this looks at least to be a program in the early stages.' A small team of IAEA inspectors remained in Libya for further discussions and to access key documents and maps.

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