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U.N. Official: Undeclared Chemical Agent Sites Identified in Libya

The Qadhafi regime in Libya possessed facilities with chemical munitions or warfare agents that were not declared to the international organization assigned to ensure the elimination of such toxic materials, the Associated Press quoted the United Nations' lead envoy to the North African state as saying on Wednesday (see GSN, Oct. 26).

Libya joined the Chemical Weapons Convention in 2004, declaring close to 25 metric tons of mustard blister agent, nearly 1,400 metric tons of precursor materials and more than 3,500 unloaded munitions, according to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. A technical problem forced the suspension of disposal operations shortly before the February uprising that led to the death last week of longtime dictator Muammar Qadhafi.

The nation has been believed to still hold roughly 9 metric tons of the blister agent.

The United Nations is working to ensure cooperation between Libya's transitional government and other groups on securing sensitive materials in Libya, which include a stock of raw uranium, envoy Ian Martin told the U.N. Security Council.

"While [Transitional National Council] forces appear to be controlling all relevant chemical and nuclear material sites, centralized command and control remains a concern," said Martin, who heads the U.N. mission to Libya. "It has become clearer that there are additional sites with previously undeclared chemical weapons or materials that the government is about to formally declare" to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

The Netherlands-based organization said on Thursday it could not comment on Martin's statement.

The agency last month pushed back by against a statement from another U.N. official regarding the existence of undeclared Libyan chemical weapons agents (see GSN, Sept. 29).

U.N. Undersecretary General Lynn Pascoe said on Sept. 26 that TNC fighters had reportedly found an installation that held undeclared chemical warfare agents 435 miles south of Tripoli. An OPCW press release issued later that week said the Qadhafi regime had previously declared the materials in question (Edith Lederer, Associated Press/Google News, Oct. 26).

NTI Analysis

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Country Profile

Flag of Libya

Libya

This article provides an overview of Libya’s historical and current policies relating to nuclear, chemical, biological and missile proliferation.

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