Libya unrest could harm U.S. program involving chemical weapons experts

A sensitive U.S. government program employing more than 700 former chemical weapons and nuclear experts working on civilian projects in Libya's medical and petroleum industries has been disrupted by the nation's current turmoil.

The aim of the program is to keep the experts working on projects and prevent them from selling their knowledge to other countries, the Associated Press reports.

The U.S. has spent approximately $2 million per year running the program since Libya agreed to give up its weapons of mass destruction in 2003, Yahoo!News reports. The program puts weapons scientists and technicians into other fields, such as medicine, green technology, and the oil and gas industry.

The Associated Press reports that approximately 200 nuclear specialists and 500 other scientists with knowledge in the areas of chemical weapons and missile technologies could be forced to leave Libya by the unrest.

"If they're facing an uncertain future, they may just walk," Sharon Squassoni, an arms control specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said, according to Yahoo!News.

Libya had already begun showing waning interest in the program after Moammar Gadhafi's complained that the government hadn't receive enough financial and military aid from the west in exchanging for ending its weapons of mass destruction development.

"We are trying to re-engage," Bonnie Jenkins, the State Department's coordinator for threat reduction programs, told the Associated Press.