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Cablegate: Libyan Heu Shipment Secure; No Decision yet Regarding Next

VZCZCXRO9590
OO RUEHTRO
DE RUEHTRO #0950/01 3411614
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 071614Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5524
INFO RUEHUNV/USMISSION UNVIE VIENNA IMMEDIATE 0088
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW IMMEDIATE 0103
RHMFISS/CDR USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI 6074

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 TRIPOLI 000950

NOFORN
SIPDIS

STATE FOR NEA/FO AND NEA/MAG.

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/7/2019
TAGS: PREL MNUC PARM PINR RS KGIC KNNP KRAD ENRG LY
SUBJECT: LIBYAN HEU SHIPMENT SECURE; NO DECISION YET REGARDING NEXT
STEPS

REF: A) TRIPOLI 938; B) TRIPOLI 941

CLASSIFIED BY: Joan A. Polaschik, Charge d'Affaires, U.S.
Embassy Tripoli, Department of State.
REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)
1. (S/NF) Summary: Visiting DOE experts confirmed December 6
that the Libyan Government had taken the requisite steps to
increase the security of the seven casks of HEU, and that the
contents -- and IAEA seals -- remained unchanged since the
shipment was halted November 25. The Libyan Government has not
yet provided guidance to its nuclear scientists regarding next
steps on the shipment, but Libyan scientists are developing
contingency plans to remove the HEU from the casks in Libya in
the event the casks must be returned empty to Russia. DOE
experts estimate that Libyan approval must be received by
December 10 in order for the shipment to be completed by the end
of December. XXXXXXXXXXXX
XXXXXXXXXXXX We continue to underscore with Libyan officials the
need to resolve this issue. End summary.

HEU CASKS SECURE, UNCHANGED

2. (S/NF) Visiting DOE experts confirmed December 6 that the
Libyan Government had taken the requisite steps to increase
security at the Tajura Nuclear Facility, and that the seven
casks of highly enriched uranium (HEU) appeared to have remained
unchanged since the planned shipment to Russia was halted on
November 25 (ref a). The DOE experts reported a visible
increase in the number of armed guards surrounding the facility.
They also confirmed that Tajura staff had disengaged the crane
within the facility and had assured the team that a new,
unassembled crane would not be built until after the shipment
had taken place. DOE's measurements of the spent fuel within
the casks determined that the content had remained unchanged.
Likewise, the IAEA seals on each cask remained in place and
uncompromised.

NO DECISIONS

3. (S/NF) The DOE team also reported that Libyan technical
specialists at Tajura had not yet received guidance from the
Libyan Government on next steps regarding the shipment. XXXXXXXXXXXX
XXXXXXXXXXXX The
team also reported that although the Libyan Government had sent
the Russian Government a diplomatic note confirming that the GOL
would complete its contract to return the casks to Russia by the
end of the calendar year, the note did not specify whether the
casks would be returned empty or with the HEU spent fuel
shipment. The DOE team assessed the diplomatic note as an
attempt to mollify Russian demands that the casks be returned.

POSSIBLE NEXT STEPS

4. (S/NF) The DOE team estimated that the GOL must give its
approval to move forward on the shipment by December 10 in order
for the shipment to take place by the end of December. The DOE
experts emphasized that significant lead time is required in
order set up the necessary logistical arrangements, permits and
overflight clearances for the specialized Russian plane to
return to Tripoli and transport the HEU to Russia.

5. (S/NF) The DOE team reported that Russian engineers had
begun to design a remote-controlled grapple to be used in the
event that the HEU spent fuel must be off-loaded from the casks
in Libya. XXXXXXXXXXXXtold the DOE experts that, if GOL
approval for the shipment was not forthcoming by December 10,
XXXXXXXXXXXX planned to start training on how to use the
grapple to off-load the casks. (According to DOE experts, spent
nuclear fuel has never been removed from casks for restorage;
the removal of the spent fuel in Libya would be an unprecedented
initiative.) DOE experts also commented that the return of the
empty casks to Russia, if necessary, would be best done by boat
and said they are developing contingency plans for that
scenario.

POSITIVE FEEDBACK FROM THE SECRETARY'S CALL

6. (S/NF) Separately, emboffs have attempted to seek
clarification of the Libyan Government's next steps regarding
the HEU shipment. XXXXXXXXXXXX
XXXXXXXXXXXX told Pol/Econ Chief that the Secretary's
December 3 call to Libyan Foreign Minister Musa Kusa had
expressed the statement of commitment requested by Saif during

TRIPOLI 00000950 002 OF 002

his recent meeting with the Ambassador (ref b), and that Kusa
had passed the message to the "highest levels" of the Libyan
Government. XXXXXXXXXXXX emphasized that Saif had made a "commitment"
to the Ambassador to ensure that the HEU shipment would be
approved by the Libyan Government, and "Saif will follow-through
on that commitment." XXXXXXXXXXXX said Kusa intended to call the
Secretary within the "coming days" in order to personally assure
her that the GOL had approved the shipment. Emboffs also
briefed Ahmed and MFA officials on the requisite timeline and
lengthy logistical preparations needed to ensure the spent
fuel's transfer to Russia by the end of the year.

COMMENT

7. (S/NF) XXXXXXXXXXXX comments indicate that the Secretary's
message to Kusa was positively received. A flurry of phone
calls between DOE and Libyan experts today also indicated that
working-level Libyan officials are seeking more time to resolve
the issue, as the Libyans successfully convinced the DOE experts
to extend the deadline for a Libyan decision by two days, to
December 10 (the initial deadline proposed by DOE was December
8). At this point, we are interpreting the Libyan experts'
technical preparations for a possible unloading of the casks in
Libya as the contingency planning required to address the very
real safety and security concerns raised by the halted shipment.
We will reassess that view on December 10, and will continue to
underscore with Libyan officials the need for a resolution of
the issue this week.
POLASCHIK

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