U.S.: Gadhafi Chemical, Nuclear Materials Secure

State Department says biggest concern is proliferation of anti-aircraft weapons.

ByABC News
August 25, 2011, 3:39 PM

Aug. 25, 2011 — -- American officials said today that Moammar Gadhafi's stock of chemical and nuclear materials are secure, amid fears they could fall into the wrong hands as the longtime leader's regime falls.

"Our judgment is that they remain secure," U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters. "We have no reason to believe that there is anything else of that nature anywhere else."

U.S. officials, including Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said they are concerned the sensitive material could end up in the hands of terrorists in the unstable nation now that Gadhafi is on the run.

"Gadhafi did have some mustard agent," Nuland confirmed today. She said the deadly chemicals had been moved to an ammunition reservation where it is kept "inside massive steel containers, within heavy bunkers" that were sealed by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

U.S. officials used "national technical means" to determine that, though some gas remained, it was accounted for and further found that any "sensitive elements of Libya's nuclear program" had been removed successfully from the country years before. The last of Gadhafi's highly enriched uranium, which could have been used to produce a nuclear bomb, were taken out of the country in 2009.

While Gadhafi did have some yellowcake nuclear material, that material is "safeguarded" in a Libyan nuclear research facility. In any event, Nuland said, "Libya doesn't have the means right now to turn yellowcake into anything dangerous."

With chemical and nuclear dangers out of the way, Nuland said the greatest concern to the U.S. was the proliferation of the Libyan military's powerful, shoulder-fired anti-aircraft weapons known as MANPADS.