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Libya says all chemical weapons destroyed

Arsenal inherited from Gaddafi completely destroyed, 10 years after the slain leader signed the chemical weapons pact.

Last updated: 05 Feb 2014 03:18
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Libya has completely destroyed the chemical arsenal it inherited from Muammar Gaddafi, 10 years after the now slain leader signed the Chemical Weapons Convention, Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdelaziz announced.

The completion of the disarmament process, begun under the ousted regime but was interrupted by the NATO-backed uprising that overthrew it, comes as the much bigger operation underway in Syria is seriously behind schedule to the mounting alarm of the West.

"Libya has become totally free of usable chemical weapons that might present a potential threat to the security of local communities, the environment and neighbouring areas," the minister said on Tuesday.

"This achievement would not have been possible in such a short time, without concerted efforts within an international partnership, or without the logistical support and the technical assistance from Canada, Germany and the USA, which provided the opportunity to use very advanced, safe and reliable technology."

Abdelaziz was speaking at a ceremony to mark the milestone that was attended by Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) chief Ahmet Uzumcu, who hailed international support for the disarmament operation, which he said was now being mirrored in Syria.

It provided a "good example of international cooperation now emulated in Syria on a larger scale," the OPCW chief said.

Uzumcu said he had visited the city of Al-Raogha, around 700 kilometres south of the capital Tripoli, earlier in the day to inspect the warehouse where Libya's largest outstanding stockpile of mustard gas had been housed before its destruction.

The OPCW chief said Libya still held stocks of low-grade Category 2 precursor chemicals but that a programme had been put in place to destroy them by the end of 2016.

Concentrated uranium stocks remain

The watchdog's work only covers the Gaddafi regime's chemical weapons programme and has not addressed the stocks of concentrated uranium, or yellowcake, that it acquired in its bid for a nuclear weapon.

At the end of 2011, in the aftermath of the revolution that toppled Gaddafi, a large stock of yellowcake was discovered at an arms depot in the main southern city of Sebha.

The stockpile has since been secured in collaboration with International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors.

But the Centre for Strategic Studies in Tripoli has asked the Libyan authorities to ensure the concentrated uranium is used for the benefit of Libyans, in "industrial and agricultural development and in the production of clean energy". 

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AFP
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