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Libya's deadliest weapons not known to be secure

WASHINGTON — No one can be sure who controls the Libyan government's weapons stockpiles, a stew of deadly chemicals, raw nuclear material and some 30,000 shoulder-fired rockets that officials fear could fall into terrorists' hands in the chaos of Moammar Gadhafi's downfall or afterward.

One immediate worry, U.S. intelligence and military officials say, is that Gadhafi might use the weapons to make a last stand. But officials also face the troubling prospect that the material, which was left under Gadhafi's control by a U.S.-backed disarmament pact, could be obtained by al-Qaida or other militants even after a rebel victory is secured.

The main stockpile of mustard gas and other chemicals, stored in corroding drums, is at a site southeast of Tripoli. A cache of hundreds of tons of raw uranium yellowcake is stored at a small nuclear facility east of the capital.

Weapons demolition teams hired by the State Department have located and destroyed some of the anti-aircraft rocket systems in rebel-held parts of the country.

U.S. and allied officials say chemical and nuclear stockpiles appear to be still under the control of what's left of the Libyan government despite rebel military advances into the capital.

Gadhafi dismantled much of his nuclear program after making a deal with the Bush administration.

Libyan assets about to be unfrozen

Europe and the United States are preparing to unfreeze billions of dollars in Libyan assets that will be crucial to the country's success after Moammar Gadhafi. The European Union said Tuesday it was preparing to unfreeze the money once the United Nations gives its approval. President Barack Obama indicated Monday that he was ready to do the same. The White House hoped to release in the coming days up to $1.5 billion. The U.S. has a total of $37 billion in Libyan assets, most of it in real estate.

Council against Assad is formed

Syria's fragmented opposition took steps toward forming a national council Tuesday, but serious divisions and mistrust among the members prevented them from presenting a unified front against President Bashar Assad's regime more than five months into the country's uprising, participants said. With Assad's forces cracking down on the protests, the overall death toll has reached 2,200, the United Nations said this week. Five people were reportedly killed Tuesday in raids near Hama.

Libya's deadliest weapons not known to be secure 08/24/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 24, 2011 12:34am]

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