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. Libyan nuclear file should be example for Syria, Iran: US
VIENNA, Sept 24 (AFP) Sep 24, 2008
Libya's cooperation with the UN atomic watchdog and its investigation into Tripoli's clandestine nuclear weapons programme should be an example for other countries, a top US official said Wednesday.

The International Atomic Energy Agency's board of governors, at its week-long meeting here, adopted by consensus a resolution commending Libya's cooperation in the agency's probe.

In December 2003, Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi stunned the world by renouncing Tripoli's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programme. It was Libya's subsequent cooperation with IAEA inspectors that helped unravel the black market network of Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan.

"Libya provides an example of how a country can rebuild confidence after serious non-compliance" with its Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) obligations, the US envoy to the IAEA, Gregory Schulte, told reporters.

"We hope that other countries under IAEA investigation take note," he said, without naming Syria or Iran explicitly.

Both Damascus and Tehran are in the dock over their alleged illicit nuclear weapons work.

The US alleges Syria had been building a secret nuclear facility until it was destroyed in a bombing raid by Israel last year.

And the IAEA has been investigating Iran's contested nuclear drive for six years, but has not been able so far to determine that the activities are entirely peaceful, as Tehran claims.

In a report to the IAEA's 35-member board of governors earlier this month, watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei said Libya's contacts with Khan date back to 1984, more than 10 years earlier than previously assumed.

In 2004, the now disgraced father of Pakistan's nuclear programme confessed to running an international nuclear smuggling ring and passing nuclear secrets to Iran, North Korea and Libya. He has been under house arrest in Islamabad since then.

Earlier this year, Khan retracted his confession, claiming it was forced, and asserted he only gave Tehran and Tripoli advice on where to get atomic know-how.

In view of Libya's cooperation, the IAEA board "agreed by consensus to support the return of Libya's case to routine safeguards," Schulte said, which is the closest the IAEA ever gets to "closing" a nuclear file.

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