Cablegate: Final Heu Shipment Departs Libya
DE RUEHTRO #1025 3551626
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 211626Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5616
INFO RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW IMMEDIATE 0110
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEHUNV/USMISSION UNVIE VIENNA IMMEDIATE 0099
RHMFISS/CDR USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK IMMEDIATE 0253
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI 6166
S E C R E T TRIPOLI 001025
STATE FOR NEA/FO AND NEA/MAG. STATE PLEASE PASS TO ENERGY (ANDREW BIENIAWSKI, KELLY CUMMINS, AND SARAH DICKERSON). E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/21/2019
TAGS: PREL PINS MNUC PARM PINR RS KGIC KNNP KRAD ENRG
SUBJECT: FINAL HEU SHIPMENT DEPARTS LIBYA REF: A) TRIPOLI 938 B) TRIPOLI 966; C) TRIPOLI 941
CLASSIFIED BY: Gene Cretz, Ambassador, U.S. Embassy Tripoli, U.S. Department of State. REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)
1. (S/NF) On December 21 at 0515, a Russian-chartered plane took off from Tripoli with the seven casks containing Libya's final Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) spent fuel stocks. Department of Energy (DOE) staff in Tripoli confirmed that the flight arrived in Russia at 11:15 local time. Today's flight marked the successful completion of Libya's commitments to dismantle its nuclear weapons programs.
2. (S/NF) Visiting DOE staff reported that the loading of the casks the overnight on December 20-21 went smoothly. They said that Libyan officials at Tajoura Nuclear Center provided no insights into the reasons behind the GOL's last-minute decision to cancel the planned November 25 shipment (ref a) or to put it back on track via a letter to Russian authorities on December 15 (ref b). DOE staff said the month-long impasse had taken a visible toll on Dr. Ali Gashut, the head of the Libyan Atomic Energy Establishment. Gashut seemed "embarrassed" and "different," and commented that he had spent a lot of time "waiting in ministry halls," presumably as the GOL debated policy options. The director of the Tajura Nuclear Center, Engineer Ahmed al-Habrush, was personally present for the loading of the casks and signed all the required documents for handing over the HEU.
3. (S/NF) In reference to queries made by Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi regarding the disposition of Libya's centrifuges that were handed over to the U.S. (Ref C), the DOE visitors noted that any centrifuges that were sent to the U.S. were destroyed and could not be could be returned to Libya in their original form. If the Libyans were referring to other materiel, such as high efficient machinery, some equipment was moved to the U.S. and some was left in Libya to be used for peaceful purposes such for medical uses.
4. (SNF) The Ambassador would like to thank the DOE team - Kelly Cummins, Igor Bolshinsky, and Stan Moses - for their efforts to resolve this issue. Their on-the-ground, expert analysis ensured that the Embassy was fully apprised of all of the technical details, and their clear explanation of the complex timelines and constraints helped ensure a timely resolution. We are very grateful for their work. CRETZ