Tuesday, May 10, 2011

OPCW Council Worried About Libyan Chemical Arsenal

Source: OPCW website
The Executive Council of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons last week voiced worries about the protections surrounding a cache of Libyan mustard blister agent and about Tripoli's plans to destroy the material as previously promised (see GSN, May 4).

"I have reminded the Libyan government of its international obligation to meet its destruction deadlines, and I have also reiterated to the [Libyan] National Authority that the responsibility for the physical security of those chemical weapons rests entirely with the Libyan Government," OPCW chief Ahmet Üzümcü said in opening remarks for last week's session of the 41-state council.

Libya is thought to have eliminated more than half of its chemical stockpile, leaving some 9.5 metric tons of mustard agent and a quantity of precursor materials that have yet to be destroyed as mandated by the Chemical Weapons Convention.

The Executive Council gave its "full support for the actions being undertaken by the director general in view of the situation, and encouraged him to continue his efforts," according to an OPCW press release.

The organization added: "The Executive Council, while noting the assurances given by the Libyan representative, urged Libya to ensure the security of the chemical weapons stockpiles and their destruction within the established deadlines."

Tripoli is required to complete destruction of the mustard stock by May 15 and to finish off the precursor material by December 31.

International observers and Libyan rebel leaders have expressed concern that embattled dictator Muammar Qadhafi might try to use the blister agent against opposition forces. Thousands of empty aerial munitions were previously destroyed, seemingly eliminating the regime's ability to mount a chemical air attack (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons release, May 6).

Source: http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20110509_9563.php

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