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How US, British intelligence worked to bring Qaddafi's Libya in from the cold

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Less than two weeks later, on April 6, 2004, another faxed request from the CIA asked for swift access to Iraqi scientists believed to have information about Saddam Hussein’s weapons programs. It stated that Libya’s cooperation would be “yet another opportunity to move forward to a new level in our relationship.” Already, the CIA said, “our security dialogue remains particularly robust.”

  • How US and British intelligence teams analyzed equipment from Libya’s nascent nuclear weapons program, and in late 2003 and early 2004 found traces of highly enriched uranium (HEU) purified to 92 percent – levels high enough for use in an atomic bomb, though far greater quantities would have been needed. CIA analysts determined that the HEU was “not the result of Libyan research and development,” but from contaminated units purchased abroad. The agency warned, however, that the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, “may look skeptically on claims of foreign contamination” because Iran made similar claims about similar traces of HEU.

The CIA advised, in its Feb. 5, 2004, missive: “Our recommendation is that, unlike Iran, you should be completely open with us and with the IAEA [about] how those contaminated components were acquired.”

  • How how the CIA, MI6 and the Qaddafi regime shared intelligence about Al Qaeda plots. The Americans informed the Libyans in April 2004 about a “possible Al Qaeda cell in Iraq” that had been “in contact with an operational cell within Libya,” which the CIA wrote was preparing for attacks against US interests in Libya as US-Libya relations improved. It gave the names and a phone number used by the cell, adding that they might be “at an unknown location somewhere in the Libyan desert.”
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