Libya marks de­struc­tion of last chem­i­cal arms

Observer on Saturday - - News - AFP

Libya marked the de­struc­tion of its last toxic arms Thurs­day, hailed by the world’s chem­i­cal weapons watch­dog as a “his­toric oc­ca­sion” to make the world a safer place.

The fi­nal de­struc­tion of some 500 met­ric tones of chem­i­cal prod­ucts at a fa­cil­ity based in Mun­ster in western Germany, was a “his­toric oc­ca­sion for dis­ar­ma­ment and se­cu­rity,” the Or­gan­i­sa­tion for the Pro­hi­bi­tion of Chem­i­cal Weapons (OPCW) said.

“It her­alds the end of Libya’s chem­i­cal de­mil­i­tari­sa­tion process and another step to­wards ful­fill­ing the core goal of the Chem­i­cal Weapons Con­ven­tion — the com­plete and per­ma­nent erad­i­ca­tion of all chem­i­cal weapons,” Direc­tor­Gen­eral


Ah­met Uzumcu said in a state­ment. The stocks, in­clud­ing 23 tanks of chem­i­cals, were shipped out on a Dan­ish ves­sel on Au­gust 30, 2016, from the Libyan port of Mis­rata, un­der the su­per­vi­sion of the United Na­tions.


The chem­i­cal weapons reached the highly spe­cialised fa­cil­ity op­er­ated by GEKA, Germany’s sta­te­owned com­pany for dis­pos­ing of chem­i­cal weapons, in Septem­ber 2016. The OPCW ver­i­fied the com­plete de­struc­tion of the ma­te­ri­als at GEKA on Novem­ber 23 last year, the OPCW said Thurs­day at a cer­e­mony held in Mun­ster. The re­moval of the dan­ger­ous weapons pre­cur­sors greatly eased fears that ex­trem­ists like so-called Is­lamic State ji­hadists could gain ac­cess to the weapons in Libya, which has been wracked by up­heaval since the 2011 over­throw of its long­time leader Muam­mar Gaddafi.

Uzumcu said the “ex­tra­or­di­nary” op­er­a­tion to de­stroy the chem­i­cals “ne­ces­si­tated agility, cre­ativ­ity and above all, close in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion.”

Libya joined the UN con­ven­tion ban­ning chem­i­cal weapons in 2004 as part of Gaddafi’s ul­ti­mately abortive ef­forts to shake off the coun­try’s pariah sta­tus and mend ties with the West. At the time Libya joined the con­ven­tion, it de­clared 24.7 tones of sul­phur mus­tard, 1 390 tones of pre­cur­sor chem­i­cals and more than 3 500 aerial bombs con­tain­ing chem­i­cal weapons.

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