There's enough nuclear material in Libya to make a dirty bomb, former UN nuclear inspection chief Olli Heinonen warned today, urging rebel authorities to move to secure it. Libya's uranium enrichment program was dismantled in 2003, but a research center 20 miles east of Tripoli still has enough radioisotopes, radioactive waste, and low-enriched uranium to be dangerous, reports Reuters. Weapons experts are worried that desperate loyalists or unscrupulous looters could raid the research center.
A similar research lab in Iraq was looted after the fall of Saddam Hussein, Heinonen recalls. "Most likely due to pure luck, the story did not end in a radiological disaster," he says, but it should still serve as a warning that such facilities can become targets. And even if those nuclear materials remain safe, security experts still are worried about Gadhafi supporters turning to chemical weapons.