UN nuclear inspectors in Libya

Inspectors from the UN nuclear watchdog have arrived in Libya to work along with British and US inspection teams already present in the North African country, under a deal struck the day before in Vienna.

    The IAEA director Muhammad al-Baradei visited Libya in December

    Britain and the United States had agreed with the watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), on Monday in Vienna to let the UN agency oversee Libya's atomic disarmament, but for British and US experts to carry out the removal and destruction of equipment, diplomats said on Tuesday.

    The IAEA team, the first UN inspectors in the country since IAEA director Muhammad al-Baradei visited Libya in December, arrived on Tuesday, the diplomats said.

    "By the end of the week, the IAEA should have about eight inspectors in Libya," a Western diplomat close to the IAEA told AFP. 

    "No drama"

    He said the IAEA wanted to "go to the roots" of the Libyan programme and to verify documents already supplied by the Libyan government and provide an "inventory" of the Libyan nuclear programme. 

    He said there was "no drama" for the IAEA in cooperating with
    the Americans on the ground. 

    The IAEA and the Americans "have good channels of communication. Everyone knows his role," the diplomat said. 

    The Americans and British are also disarming Libya's chemical
    and biological weapons capacities, while the IAEA only deals with nuclear issues. 

    Britain and the United States are to provide logistical support
    to the inspection missions carried out by the IAEA, al-Baradei had said Monday, in explaining an agreement that ended a turf battle over who should take the leading role in verifying that Libya is making good on its promise to give up weapons of mass destruction. 

    Rushing  into Libya

    US and UK are disarming Libya's
    chemical weapons 

    The administration of US President George Bush had accused the IAEA, which is mandated to monitor adherence to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), of rushing into Libya. 

    "I think we have agreement on what needs to be done. Clearly the agency role is very clear that we need to do the verification," al-Baradei said, referring to the IAEA's mandate as a monitoring agency under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). 

    Non-proliferation expert Gary Samore told AFP the idea was "to work out some accommodation, so that both sides can say they carried out their missions." 

    The Western diplomat said the IAEA would be "measuring, taking samples, doing the evaluation of the data." 

    The IAEA "wants to establish how many centrifuges are there, where they came from," referring to centrifuges that are crucial in making the highly enriched uranium that is the basic ingredient for an atomic bomb. 

    The diplomat said that once the IAEA had completed this
    verification work "the Americans and British will be free to take the equipment out of the country." "It is their job to take it out," he added.


    Spanish FM visit

    Ana Palacio gave al-Qadhafi
    a letter from Spain PM

    Also on Tuesday, Spanish Foreign Minister Ana Palacio met with Libyan leader Muammar al-Qadhafi, a Libyan official said. 

    She gave al-Qadhafi a letter from Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, the official added, without providing any details. 

    Earlier, a Libyan official had said the talks would centre on the country's return to the international fold after it agreed last month to halt its weapons of mass destruction programme. 

    "Spain wants Libya to occupy the place it deserves in the international community of nations which function via the rule of law," Palacio said on a visit to China last month. 

    In September, Aznar became the first EU leader to pay a state visit to Tripoli. 

    His visit came less than a week after the United Nations lifted
    sanctions against Libya imposed following the 1988 Lockerbie plane bombing for which a Libyan agent is serving a life sentence.



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