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TD892
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« Reply #15 on: February 27, 2011, 11:18:41 am »



Libya lacks means to use chemical arms: watchdog

Libya retains 9.5 tonnes of deadly mustard gas but no longer has weapons to deliver it, a watchdog agency said on Sunday, amid international concern that embattled leader Muammar Gaddafi might resort to its use.

Michael Luhan, spokesman for the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), told Reuters the chemicals were under the army's control but were stored in a remote location far from the capital Tripoli, Gaddafi's main bastion.

"As far as we have been able to verify, and we have no information that indicates anything to the contrary, Libya destroyed the entire stockpile of its chemical weapons munitions

-- a cache of several thousand aerial bombs that are designed for chemicals -- in early 2004, seven years ago," he said by telephone from the OPCW's base in The Hague. Luhan declined to say where the mustard gas was located but added: "It's nowhere near Tripoli, let's put it that way."

"It's kept in a location which is only for that purpose. It's a depot guarded by the military."

Peter Flory, then U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy, told Congress in April 2006 that Libyan chemical weapons and materials were stored in a remote location in the desert, about 600 km (375 miles) from Tripoli.

CHEMICAL AGENTS

Government forces confronting nearly two weeks of anti-Gaddafi protests have carried out a violent crackdown against demonstrators. The death toll from the violence is estimated by diplomats at about 2,000.

The U.N. Security Council called for the crackdown to be referred to the International Criminal Court for investigation and possible prosecution of anyone responsible for killing civilians.

There have been fears that Gaddafi, who has said he will fight to the death, could use chemical weapons in a last ditch attempt to cling to power. British Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Sunday Libya appeared to have stocks of mustard gas, although it was not clear what condition they were in.

The OPCW, which enforces a global chemical weapons ban, says it has monitored Libya's destruction of more than 3,300 bomb casings designed to carry chemical agents since 2004.

Libya announced in December 2003 it would abandon any efforts to acquire nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, in an effort to mend ties with the West, after agreeing to pay damages for the 1988 Pan Am plane bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland.

Libya joined OPCW in 2004 and committed itself to destroying all its chemical weapons and the capacity to produce them by April 29, 2007.

Disputes ensued between Tripoli and Washington over funding for the internationally-financed program and in 2007 Libya informed the United States it planned to back out of its promise to destroy its mustard gas stocks.

The OPCW later granted Libya an extension until May 2011 to destroy the rest of its mustard gas stocks.

The OPCW is the implementing body of the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention, which has been ratified by 188 countries and bans many varieties of mass-destruction chemical arms.

(Reporting by William Maclean, Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/02/27/us-libya-protests-chemicalweapons-idUSTRE71Q1PS20110227?WT.tsrc=Social%20Media&WT.z_smid=twtr-reuters_%20com&WT.z_smid_dest=Twitter
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