The world really needs to be more careful and stop misplacing its nuclear materials.
According to the United Nations (UN) nuclear watchdog, 2.5 tons of natural uranium has gone missing from Libya, sounding the alarm over potential nefarious uses of the dangerous material. It went missing from a site not under government control, and forces allied to a warlord currently battling the government claim to have recovered the uranium, though this remains unconfirmed.
The discovery comes from the watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), after they did a scheduled visit of the storage site, which was pushed back from last year due to security concerns. As told to Reuters, the IAEA found approximately 10 drums of natural uranium missing from its designated area.
Natural uranium is not immediately usable in weaponry or nuclear reactors, but a complex refinement process can create around 5.6 kilograms (12 pounds) from each ton of natural uranium, according to AP. Doing so requires an enrichment plant, which converts the uranium into a gas at low temperatures before being centrifuged at high speeds to create enriched uranium. The technology to do so is tightly controlled by world regulatory bodies, though their reach only extends so far.
It now remains to be seen whether the uranium has been recovered and can be verified by the UN, or whether it remains lost. Similar incidents have garnered significant attention in recent weeks, with a lost radioactive container sparking a nationwide manhunt that led to officials slowly walking along highways looking for it. The material was eventually recovered, but some stated it highlighted a need for even tighter controls over radioactive material with the potential to become weapons-grade.