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U.N. nuclear chief to visit Libya

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Gadhafi's announcement could lead to the final lifting of sanctions on Libya.

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(CNN) -- The head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog says he will travel to Libya next week to assess the state's nuclear weapons program.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Mohamed ElBaradei's comments follow Friday's surprise announcement that Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi will dismantle the country's weapons of mass destruction program and allow inspections.

ElBaradei said he would travel to Libya to "kickstart a process of verification" of Libya's arms program, and said inspections could start as early as next week.

He described Libya's announcement as a positive move "to rid itself of all programs or activities that are relevant or could lead to the production of weapons of mass destruction."

ElBaradei, who met a delegation from Libya on Saturday, said he would notify the IAEA's governing board on Monday about Libya's nuclear activities.

Libya has admitted to nuclear fuel projects, including a uranium enrichment program that could have been used to make bomb-grade material.

Libya's Prime Minister Shokri Ghanem said on Monday Libya was ready to sign a U.N. protocol permitting snap inspections of nuclear facilities.

"Yes, we are members of the world community. We are agreed to the commitment we are taking in front of the International Atomic Energy Agency," he told the BBC.

He said Libya wanted to change its "priorities and concentrate on our economic affairs and economic development."

Libya's announcement came a day after Iran, accused by Washington of secretly trying to build nuclear weapons, bowed to international pressure and signed the protocol to the Non-Proliferation Treaty allowing snap inspections of nuclear facilities.

The U.S. and Britain gave clear signs that Gadhafi's announcement could lead to the final lifting of sanctions imposed in the wake of the Lockerbie bombing. (Full story)

But relatives of victims of Libyan actions abroad say an apparent deal by the West amounts to rewarding terror. (Full story)

Gadhafi admitted earlier this year that Libya was responsible for the deaths of 270 people in the Lockerbie bombing and agreed to pay compensation worth more than $2 billion to relatives of the victims.

Sunday was the 15th anniversary of the downing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 259 people abroad and 11 on the ground. A Libyan agent is serving a life sentence in a Scottish jail for his part in the 1988 bombing.


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