UN watchdog says Libyan chemical weapons secure

AP News
Posted: Sep 07, 2011 10:47 AM
UN watchdog says Libyan chemical weapons secure

Libya's remaining chemical weapon stockpiles are believed to be secure despite the turmoil that has roiled the country since February, the chief of a U.N. watchdog said Wednesday.

Ahmet Uzumcu, director general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, said his inspectors are ready to return to Libya to oversee the destruction of Moammar Gadhafi's poison gas supplies "when the conditions will allow us."

The organization had inspectors in Libya up until February verifying the destruction process but left as the anti-Gadhafi rebellion gathered intensity.

However, Uzumcu said Wednesday he had heard from sources that "remaining stockpiles of chemical weapons are secured." He did not identify the sources.

"Once the circumstances will permit, we hope the destruction (of the supplies) will resume," he said.

In 2004, Gadhafi agreed to dismantle his weapons of mass destruction, and his regime underscored its commitment by using bulldozers to crush 3,300 unloaded aerial bombs that could have been used to deliver chemical weapons.

Libya destroyed nearly 13.5 metric tons (15 tons) of sulfur mustard last year, about 54 percent of its stockpile. It received an extension to eliminate the rest by May 15, the organization said. Nearly 40 percent of the chemicals used to make sulfur mustard also have been destroyed since 2005, it said.

Twice-yearly inspections have found no evidence of Libya reviving the chemical weapons program.

Uzumcu spoke to reporters after meeting with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari for an update on Baghdad's efforts to destroy Saddam Hussein-era chemical weapons.