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article imageOp-Ed: Libya still trying to eliminate its chemical weapons stocks

By Ken Hanly     Sep 23, 2013 in World
Tripoli - Libya signed on to the Chemical Weapons Convention nine years ago but it is still trying to destroy the remainder of its stocks. It has managed to destroy 95 per cent of its mustard gas.
In 2004 in order to remove its image as a pariah state or perhaps it feared that it might be invaded because it had weapons of mass destruction, Libya under Gadaffi signed the Chemical Weapons Convention. At the time, the regime said it had 13 tonnes of mustard gas but had destroyed the means to deliver it. Following the signing, Gadaffi under OPCW experts destroyed over half of his mustard gas and 40 per cent of chemicals used to manufacture, and 3,550 bombs used to deliver the gas.
In 2011 the uprising against Gadaffi interrupted the process. Work resumed under the new government in 2012. Colonel Ali Chikhi, spokesperson for the Libyan army staff said: "The process of elimination is being conducted step-by-step, with the latest stage of the destruction of chemicals taking place between December, 2012 and May, 2013. Libya has destroyed 95 percent of its mustard gas stocks and is on course to eliminate the remainder by 2016 at the latest.Chemical substances stored in warehouses are strictly monitored and subject to draconian controls by Libya and the international community" .
The Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdelaziz said that Libya has forged an agreement with the US to provide technical help in destroying the chemicals. The experts were expected in Libya within the next few days. The United States has agreed to pay 80 per cent of the cost of the operation. Libya also has stocks of yellowcake or concentrated uranium which for now will not be touched. Libya is trying to determine if the uranium can be used for nuclear energy purposes. With the help of the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors, the stock has been secured.
The United States and Russia both became active in destroying their chemical weapons under the Convention in 1997. Both set a deadline of April 2012 for destroying their stockpiles. Neither met the deadline but the US at 90% completion is far ahead of Russia. The US now says it will finish its destruction far in the future: The Pentagon intends by 2023 to wrap up dismantlement of the U.S. chemical stockpile, which once contained nearly 30,000 tons of warfare agent.
The Russia US plan calls for Syria to destroy its chemicals and weapons by the middle of 2014. Syrian President Assad said last week that "it needs a year, or maybe a little bit more and $1 billion for Syria to surrender its chemical weapons." If Syria does not comply, it could face serious consequences including a possible military attack. There is no UN resolution pending to punish the failures of the US, and Russia who have missed their deadline and have now spent over a decade ridding themselves of their stockpiles. The US is now looking at 2023 to finish.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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