UDC 623.454.8(612)
Biblid: 0543-3657, 72 (2021)
Vol. 72, No 1183, pp. 33-51
DOI: https://doi.org/10.18485/iipe_mp.2021.72.1183.2

Original scientific paper
Received: 15 Jul 2021
Accepted: 08 Aug 2021

Fear of Targeting as the Main Cause for Stopping Libya’s Nuclear Weapons Program

Stojanović Bogdan (Autor je naučni saradnik u Institutu za međunarodnu politiku i privredu, Beograd), bogdan.stojanovic@diplomacy.bg.ac.rs

This article investigates the causes of the shutdown of Libya’s nuclear weapons program, which lasted from the establishment of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime until 2003. The author analyses the phases of the nuclear weapons program, observing three periods, from attempts to purchase a produced nuclear bomb, through establishing cooperation with other countries in order to procure production technology, to the last phase of relying on own capacities with external assistance and illegal procurement of nuclear elements on the black market. By analysing the practices of foreign policy and internal nuclear activities, the author tries to locate the main causes of the stoppage of Libya’s nuclear program through the prism of a realistic paradigm. Rejecting the thesis of insufficient personnel capacity as a reason for stopping the nuclear program and the possibility of economic sanctions to deliver results, the author emphasizes the fear of targeting as the main cause for abandoning nuclear ambitions. Elaborating on Gaddafi’s pragmatism and the difference between declared and real intentions, the author emphasizes the importance of understanding the nature of the regime driven by the desire for the first Arab nuclear bomb. The theory of hegemonic stability offers a basis for a theoretical interpretation of Libyan behaviour and the final abandonment of the nuclear weapon program. This article opens up space for future academic analysis, such as the issue of the capability of nuclear weapons to deter military intervention and whether Libya would be attacked in the case of further work on the nuclear bomb.

Keywords: Libya, nuclear program, Muammar Gaddafi, targeting, denuclearization, military intervention