Iraq helps Libya destroy chemical weapons

2012-04-12 18:52

Baghdad -Iraq has accepted a request from Libya to provide assistance in disposing of Tripoli's chemical weapons, Iraqi government spokesperson Ali al-Dabbagh said in a statement released on Thursday.

The Iraqi cabinet has agreed "to provide necessary technical assistance to the Libyan authorities to dispose of their chemical stockpiles, according to the procedures followed by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)," the statement said.

Libya's representative to the OPCW, Mohammed Jibril, requested Iraqi "help in the diplomatic and technical field to get rid of chemical stockpiles that Libya has which must be destroyed under the supervision" of the OPCW, it said.

Iraq approved the request because Baghdad wants "to provide the necessary assistance... to Arab brothers at all levels," the statement said, noting Iraq's "extensive experience... in disposing of chemical weapons."

The OPCW is the implementing body of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), to which Iraq became the 186th state party in 2009, according to the OPCW website.

The OPCW said in November that Libya's ruling National Transitional Council had pledged to continue with the previous regime's programme of destroying its chemical weapons stockpiles.

The organisation said in January after a visit by inspectors that ousted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's regime possessed undeclared mustard gas shells.

"Libya must now submit a detailed plan and completion date for destroying all of the declared materials to the OPCW not later than 29 April 2012, the date of the final extended deadline," it said.

Iraq has long history with chemical weapons, which the regime of now-executed dictator Saddam Hussein used against Iranian forces during the Iran-Iraq war, and also against its own civilian population.

In 1988, an estimated 5 000 people were killed in the Iraqi village of Halabja in what is now thought to have been the worst gas attack ever carried out against civilians.

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