The International Atomic Energy Agency said in a confidential report this week that 2.5 tons of natural uranium have gone missing from a site in Libya that is not controlled by the government.
Reuters reported that the U.N. nuclear watchdog informed member states of the news this week, according to documents viewed by the publication.
A statement from IAEA chief Rafael Grossi said:
“The inspection was supposed to happen last year but had to be postponed because of the security situation in the region. Investigators found that 10 drums containing approximately 2.5 tons of natural uranium in the form of UOC (uranium ore concentrate) previously declared by (Libya) … as being stored at that location were not present at the location. The loss of knowledge about the present location of nuclear material may present a radiological risk, as well as nuclear security concerns.”
Officials said that investigations were already underway to locate the missing nuclear materials. The name and location of the site were not revealed, although officials said that getting to it required “complex logistics.”
Natural uranium contains approximately 0.7% uranium-235, the isotope needed to produce nuclear weapons, according to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Committee. In order to make nuclear weapons, the uranium has to undergo an enrichment process to increase the concentration of uranium-235.
Natural uranium poses “little radioactive danger because it gives off very small amounts of radiation,” the CDC says.
Natural uranium is also not a threat for making dirty bombs, according to Ivan Oelrich. Ph.D., the Senior Fellow for the Strategic Security Program at the Federation of American Scientists.
Libya is one of the most unstable and dangerous countries in the world as ISIS and al-Qaeda terror groups are known to operate in the country and have carried out attacks within its borders.
The U.S. State Department has attached its strongest travel advisory to Libya, warning U.S. citizens not to travel to the country due to “crime, terrorism, civil unrest, kidnapping, and armed conflict.”