Libya 'had undeclared weapon stockpile'

2012-01-20 21:04
Amsterdam - International inspectors have confirmed that late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi had an undeclared stockpile of chemical weapons, the organisation that oversees a global ban on such armaments announced on Friday.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said inspectors who visited Libya this week found sulfur mustard and artillery shells "which they determined are chemical munitions", meaning the shells were not filled with chemicals, but were designed specifically to be loaded with chemical weapons.

"They are not ready to use, because they are not loaded with agents," OPCW spokesperson Michael Luhan said.

He would not divulge the amounts of chemicals in the previously unknown stockpile, except to call it "a fraction" of what Gaddafi disclosed in the past.

Libya's new rulers told the Hague-based organisation about the chemicals last year after toppling Gaddafi from power. The longtime Libyan strongman was killed in October after being captured by rebel fighters.

The newly confirmed chemical armaments are stored at the Ruwagha depot in south-eastern Libya together with chemical weapons that Gaddafi had declared to international authorities in 2004 as he tried to shake off his image as an international pariah and rebuild relations with the West.

He declared his regime had 27.6 tons of sulphur mustard and 1 543 tons of precursor chemicals used to make chemical weapons. His regime also declared more than 3 500 unfilled aerial bombs designed for use with chemical warfare agents such as sulphur mustard, and three chemical weapons production facilities.

Those stockpiles were being destroyed until a technical problem halted destruction last year at the same time as the popular uprising began that led to Gaddafi’s ouster and death.

Libya was to have completed destruction of its chemical weapons by April 29 of this year, but can no longer meet the deadline after the turmoil that roiled the country last year. The country's new government now has until that date to file a plan and proposed completion date for destroying its entire chemical weapon stockpile.

- AP
Read more on:    muammar gaddafi  |  libya  |  libya protests  |  north africa  |  uprisings
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