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Libya

Facilities

Last Updated: December, 2011

Chemical

These facilities are no longer being updated. For current developments, please see the Libya Chemical Overview.

Pharma 150 (Rabta)

Libya's first CW production facility, known as Pharma 150, was a large industrial complex at Rabta, a sparsely populated and mountainous desert area about 75 miles southwest of Tripoli. The Reagan administration first publicized the existence and purpose of the Rabta facility in the fall of 1988.

Considered to be one of the largest CW production facilities in the developing world, the Rabta complex consisted of a CW agent production plant, a chemical munitions storage building, and a steel mill. The complex was defended with Soviet-made surface-to-air missiles. [1] Since the establishment of the Rabta facility, Libya had reportedly moved thousands of civilian plant workers to a nearby town.

According to published reports, the Rabta plant was built with the help of private companies from a dozen nations, including both Western and Eastern bloc countries. Firms from Germany, Belgium, France, and Italy, as well as Japan, provided Libya with the technology and materials to manufacture chemical weapons. The German firm Imhausen-Chemie AG played a central role in construction of the Rabta facility. [2] In 1989, Imhausen reportedly contracted with Salzgitter Industriebau, another German company, to supply plans for a large chemical plant to produce highly toxic materials at Rabta. [3] Other German firms also cooperated with Imhausen but claim that they believed they were delivering goods for a pharmaceutical plant being built in Hong Kong. Imhausen used this cover story to move sensitive goods through its Hong Kong-based trading company, Pen Tsao Material Medical Center, which had a branch in Hamburg and was able to circumvent German export controls. [4] The German equipment and supplies were shipped through Hong Kong and Singapore before reaching Libya. [5]

Ihsan Barbouti International (IBI), a company operated by Ihsan Barbouti, an Iraqi-born London engineer, acted as middleman between the Libyan government and Imhausen and its European suppliers. [6] Barbouti reportedly made the arrangement with the West German company in his capacity as Qadhdhafi's adviser. Imhausen contracted initially with IBI in September 1984 to provide engineering and design assistance for the Rabta plant through several companies it controlled in Switzerland and elsewhere in Europe. [7] IBI Engineering GmbH, Barbouti's Frankfurt office, was described by United States officials as having been set up solely to manage the construction of the Rabta complex. Alfred Teves GmbH, a subsidiary of the U.S. company International Telephone and Telegraph (ITT), sold industrial cooling equipment to IBI Engineering. [8] The Frankfurt company Zink John GmbH, Combustion Technology, sold a tower for the burning of waste gas to IBI's Zurich branch. [9] In June 1990, after his involvement in the Rabta project became known, Barbouti died suddenly under mysterious circumstances in a London hospital.

Other West German firms were involved in the Libyan CW program, although they later claimed to have been unaware that their goods and services were being used for this purpose. Gesellschaft fuer Automation, an Imhausen subsidiary, reportedly supplied automation equipment for the Rabta plant. [10] The multinational telecommunications firm Siemens provided an electronic control system to Gesellschaft fuer Automation, apparently in the belief that the system was destined for a plant under construction in Hong Kong. [11] The electronic control system was ultimately installed at Rabta. The chemical company Preussag AG stated that it had sold Libya a sea-water desalinization plant that was built about five kilometers away from Rabta and also supplied a water pumping station that was crucial for the plant's operation. [12] Pilot Plant, a subsidiary of the chemical firm Karl Kolb, was also involved in the Rabta project.

In the late 1980s, a Japanese company, Nihon Seikojo, or Japan Steel Works, played a major role in the construction of the metal-working plant at the Rabta complex. [13] The company stated that it had delivered general-purpose machine tools, which it believed would be used for a desalinization plant. However, the proximity of the metal-working plant to the CW factory indicated that the Libyans intended to fabricate munitions and delivery vehicles for poison gas. Japan Steel Works subcontracted the electrical system for the machine shop to Toshiba in 1985. Toshiba, which delivered and installed the equipment, maintained that it, too, had supplied only general-purpose industrial materials and had nothing to do with the construction of the CW plant, which was off-limits to Japanese workers. According to U.S. Department of State officials, the Japanese government assured the United States that as of July 1988, Japanese firms had ceased all activities at Rabta.

As the Rabta facility was nearing completion, Libya acquired precursor chemicals from West German suppliers. The pharmaceutical firm E. Merck legally shipped 19 tons of dichlorethane (a dual-use chemical) to Libya in 1988, for undisclosed uses. [14] Rhein-Mass-Seekontor, a shipping firm, admitted delivering 60 tons of phosphorus trichloride, a nerve-agent precursor, to Tripoli on an unspecified date. Other European firms involved in the Rabta project included the Belgian shipping company Cross Link, which was accused of shipping construction materials to Libya on behalf of Imhausen's Zurich subsidiary. [15] A French firm, De Dietrich, provided glass-lined vessels designed to contain corrosive chemical reactions to the Rabta factory in December 1988.

In June 1990, U.S. officials claimed that China was supplying the Rabta plant with raw materials for CW agents. [16] This allegation followed a report in April 1990 that a Chinese manufacturer of artillery shells had been linked to Rabta, an indication that Libya was interested in the production of chemical munitions. [17] In terms of foreign personnel, the Rabta plant reportedly employed about 1,000 Thai nationals in the late 1980s. (Between 25,000 and 75,000 Thai nationals worked in Libya at that time). [18] Pakistani laborers also participated in construction of the plant. In January 1989, it was also reported that several West German experts were employed at Rabta. [19] According to U.S. intelligence sources, the Rabta factory began mass-producing CW agents in 1990, although there is some evidence that pilot production began earlier. [20] In the early 1990s, Rabta was reported to be capable of producing the blister agent sulfur mustard and the nerve agents Sarin and Tabun at a rate of 10,000 pounds a day. [21]

In March 1990, American and German intelligence sources claimed that Libya had produced approximately 30 tons of sulfur mustard at Rabta. However, conflicting reports indicated that the plant was operating at about half capacity and was having difficulty producing chemical artillery shells. On 14 March 1990, the Libyans claimed that a fire had destroyed the Rabta plant. According to satellite photos taken by the United States and France, however, the fire caused such minimal damage that it was widely viewed as a hoax. [22] In the view of an Italian official, the fire was "a self-provoked accident to ward off the threat of another American attack" such as the 1986 U.S. air raid on Tripoli and Benghazi to punish Libya for sponsoring a terrorist attack against U.S. servicemen. [23] Western governments also rejected Libya's later claim that the plant had been cleaned up and converted to a legitimate pharmaceutical facility. [24] In March 1991, U.S. intelligence officials reported that in the vicinity of Rabta, Libya had built a new complex of S-shaped concrete bunkers covered with sand, which contained special equipment to assemble CW-containing artillery shells and bombs. [25] The United States warned that this development represented a new phase in Libya's efforts to acquire a CW capability. [26] Indeed, some evidence suggests that CW production at Rabta restarted in September 1996. [27]

In an effort to demonstrate that Rabta served a "purely commercial enterprise," in October 1995, Qadhdhafi held a ceremony at the facility to inaugurate a new pharmaceutical plant, as part of a joint venture with Egypt's Nasr Companies for Pharmaceuticals, "designed to produce medicines, detergents and cleansers..." [28]

As of late 2003, Rabta reportedly still could produce nerve and mustard agents "and the bombs, shells and warheads to contain it." [29] Moreover, the Rabta facility had received "large stocks of feedstocks for mustard gas like thiodiglycol, and precursors for nerve gas..." [30] Since the late 1980s, the production rate for blister and nerve agents "has been very low and the plant is either not successful or is not being utilized because of fear of attack." [31]

Pharma 200 (Sebha)

A second Libyan CW plant, called Pharma 200, was reportedly almost identical to the Rabta plant. It was located underground in a remote desert location, 650 miles south of Tripoli in the Sebha Oasis, a military base about 95 kilometers north of the Chadian-Libyan border. Construction of Pharma 200 began in the late 1980s and was completed in 1992. Imhausen reportedly developed and delivered plans for the plant. [32] Two additional German companies, Rose of Stuttgart and Abacus in Ulm, were suspected in June 1990 of helping to design the facility. [33] It was also reported that Libya had requested Thyssen, a German firm, to supply hydraulic lift equipment for the plant. [34] Other equipment was supplied by the Swiss firm EDM Engineering and by the Italian firm Technoglass ICM. [35] The Chinese government was also involved in the project. [36] In July 1990, U.S. officials claimed that the Chinese government was selling an estimated 10,000 tons of chemicals that could be used to manufacture CW agents at Pharma 200. [37] The plant reportedly produced the arsenic-based blister agent Lewisite and Sarin nerve agent. As at Rabta, most of the plant workers were Thai nationals. [38] [Note: The last date of news reporting on Pharma 200 was in 1992.]

Pharma 300 (Tarhunah)

With the operations at the Rabta complex severely hampered in 1991 because of its exposure as a CW plant, Qadhdhafi resolved to build an entirely new, underground CW production complex near the town of Tarhunah, 50 miles southeast of Tripoli. This facility was intended to supplant the Rabta plant. As with the other two plants, the Libyan government has claimed at various times that Tarhunah was a petrochemical complex or that the facility's tunnels were part of the Great Man-Made River Project to funnel water from Libya's southern aquifers to its coastal cities. [39] The Tarhunah facility, extending over six square miles, was reportedly a labyrinth of tunnels carved into the side of a hollowed-out mountain. [40]

The entrance to Tarhunah was located in the middle of a long, narrow valley between two mountain peaks, making it difficult for spy-satellites to view the factory or for fighter aircraft to destroy it. The plant was considered virtually impregnable to conventional air attack because of three 450-foot-long tunnels, protected above by 100 feet of sandstone and several feet of reinforced concrete. [41] To make the plant even more difficult to attack, Libya reportedly obtained blueprints used by the former Soviet Union to build underground bomb shelters. [42] Apparently, only a direct hit on the top of the mountain with a nuclear warhead would be capable of destroying the facility. Former U.S. Central Intelligence Agency Director John Deutch called Tarhunah "the world's largest underground chemical-weapons plant." [43] The plant was expected to become fully operational by the end of 1997 and to produce more than 2,500 tons of sulfur mustard [44] and other chemical weapons such as the nerve agents Sarin and Soman. [45] In early 1996, it was reported that the facility was already capable of storing most of Libya's stockpile - allegedly about 100 tons. [46]

To construct the Tarhunah plant and purchase the necessary equipment to manufacture CW, Qadhdhafi reportedly established a purchasing network operating through front companies and middlemen around the world. At the top of this purchasing network is the state-owned Jowfe Corporation. [47] Suspicions about the plant's real purpose have been confirmed by Jowfe's purchase orders. In early 1994, British authorities uncovered that Jowfe had ordered two chemical production plants from the Multinational Engineering Group, a subsidiary of the British company APV. [48] The deal was camouflaged by means of a three-way operation: Jowfe contracted with APV's Malaysian subsidiary, APV Hills and Hills, which passed the order to its parent company in London. In addition to chemical production equipment, the order included materials for CW agent production—in particular, pinacolyl alcohol, a key ingredient in the production of Soman. [49] Jowfe also obtained technical specifications for the construction of 150-meter-long underground tunnels, commonly used in secret military installations, from the Sauer engineering company of Salzburg, Austria. [50] German and Austrian companies also provided construction personnel and equipment to help build the tunnels at Tarhunah. [51]

Working through a Thai middleman, Libya purchased 60-ton rotary boring machines used to tunnel into the mountain from the German company Westfalia-Becorit. Subsequently, the German government ordered the company to cease supplying spare parts for the boring machines, so as to render them useless. [52] But Libya had managed to circumvent the embargo by obtaining spare parts from other companies in China, India, and Southeast Asia. [53] The Belgian company Hassco, based in Ostend, supplied CW precursor chemicals to Jowfe. Among them were ethylene oxide used for manufacturing sulfur mustard and incendiary bombs, and dimethylamine, a component of Tabun nerve agent. [54] South Africa may have supplied additional chemicals used in manufacturing chemical weapons. On 11 February 1997, South African President Nelson Mandela promised to investigate claims that members of the South African Defense Force had sold chemical precursors or expertise to Libya after the 1994 election. [55]

Further evidence for the intended military use of the Tarhunah complex was provided by Libya's purchase of chemical reactors and piping, whose inner walls are coated with Teflon to make them resistant to corrosive toxic substances. [56] In addition, Libya purchased a sophisticated Swiss air-purification system, protected by special fire-resistant materials, and a computerized process control system for automated chemical production. [57] In August 1996, three German businessmen were charged with selling Libya, between 1990 and 1993, advanced computerized equipment that could be programmed to manufacture Soman and Sarin. [58]

In late 1996, reports began to surface that construction of the Tarhunah plant had fallen behind schedule because of the success of Western governments in disrupting the global procurement network Libya had established for the project. [59] Middle East defense expert Anthony Cordesman stated in late 1996 that work on the plant had ceased. [60] Furthermore, according to a Western diplomat in Cairo, there was little security in the vicinity of Tarhunah, suggesting that the project was dormant. [61] Nevertheless, U.S. officials remained concerned about Tarhunah because of Qadhdhafi's history of deception. Some analysts suspected that work on the plant may have merely slowed down and that equipment was being transported at night, when it was difficult to detect. [62]

In February 1997, Israeli military intelligence sources revealed that work on the plant had halted temporarily and then resumed in late 1996, entering a new stage in which chemical production equipment was being installed. [63] American and Israeli sources estimated that the Tarhunah plant might be ready for CW production by the end of 1997. [64] Reportedly, Libya had enlisted some 60 to 80 foreign experts from countries such as China and Germany to help complete the plant on schedule. [65] To manufacture the precursor chemicals needed as raw materials for the Tarhunah facility, many of which were no longer available from foreign suppliers, Libya had built a production plant near the northeastern town of Benghazi. [66] This facility was an extension of an existing Liquid Petroleum Products (LPP) plant, which produced "drilling mud" for the oil industry. It also had sufficient capacity, however, to meet present and future requirements for CW precursors. The LPP plant reportedly manufactured phosphorus trichloride, a nerve agent precursor, as well as thionyl chloride and sodium sulphide, both of which could be used to make the sulfur mustard precursor thiodiglycol. [67] Since the late 1990s, "there have been "few recent signs of activity" in Tarhunah, [68] with its operational status unknown.

According to a November 2003 unclassified CIA report:

Libya also remained heavily dependent on foreign suppliers for CW precursor chemicals and other key related equipment. Following the suspension of UN sanctions, Tripoli reestablished contacts with sources of expertise, parts, and precursor chemicals abroad, primarily in Western Europe....Tripoli still appeared to be working toward an offensive CW capability and eventual indigenous production. [69]

Possibly confirming such intention, in January 2003, Italian customs police in the port of Genoa seized a 50-ton cargo of industrial chemicals on a ship bound for Libya, suspecting that the material could be used to produce weapons of mass destruction. [70] The chemical on board was identified as morpholine, which could be used in the manufacture of chemical weapons; it is also a dual use chemical also used as a corrosion inhibitor and to clean and lubricate oil drilling equipment. [71]

On 22 December 2003, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) welcomed Libya's announcement that it had decided to renounce all programs aimed at producing chemical weapons and that it intended "to adhere to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) "without delay." [72] This action was followed on 6 January 2004 by Libya's depositing its 'instruments of accession' to the Chemical Weapons Convention with the United Nations Secretary General, paving the way thirty days later for its becoming the 159th State Party to the Convention. [73]

As part of its new openness regarding its chemical weapons capability, in March 2004 the Libyan government revealed that it had been engaged in the development of the Sarin and that its stockpile of chemical weapons had included more than 20 metric tons of sulfur mustard. [74] It also disclosed that it had shut down one of its chemical weapons plants—although its identity was not revealed—and that it still possessed two chemical weapons storage facilities. [75] The Libyan government also provided the OPCW, which was monitoring the dismantling of its chemical weapons program, a plan for destroying its chemical weapons facilities. [76]

Sources:
[1] Bill Gertz, "2nd Chemical Arms Plant Spied in Libya," The Washington Times, 18 June 1990, p. 1.
[2] In June 1990, Jurgen Hippenstiel-Imhausen, the former head of Imhausen, pleased guilty to violating West German export and tax laws while secretly selling a chemical production plant to Libya for $150 million. He did not admit that the plant was designed to produce chemical weapons, although the prosecution charged that the plant's sole purpose was to produce such weapons. Ferdinand Protzman, "German Confesses on Libyan Plant," The New York Times, 14 June 1990. On 27 June, the German court sentenced Mr. Hippenstiel to a five-year prison term.
[3] Cologne Deutschlandfunk Network, "Salzgitter Group Accused," 16 January 1989 [Foreign Broadcast Information Service, JPRS-TAC-89-004, 31 January 1989, p. 14].
[4] Karl Guenther Barth, Wilfried Krause, and Rudolph Mueller, "Secret Project 'Pharma 150'," Stern, 12 January 1989, pp. 124-28 [Foreign Broadcast Information Service, JPRS-TAX-89-001-L, 19 January 1989, p. 17].
[5] Udo Ufkotte, "European Companies Help Libya Build Another Poison Gas Factory," Frankfurter, 16 March 1993, p. 7 [cited in Foreign Broadcast Information Service, JPRS-TND-93-009, 29 March 1993, p. 26].
[6] At his trial, Mr. Hippenstiel admitted that he was approached by Mr. Barbouti in mid-1984 to help build a "multi-purpose" chemical plant for a project dubbed "Pharma 150." Protzman, "German Confesses on Libyan Plant."
[7] Barth, et al., "Secret Project 'Pharma 150,'" pp. 124-28.
[8] Hamburg DPA, "Merck, Tewes Firms Also Implicated in Libya," 16 January 1989 [Foreign Broadcast Information Service, JPRS-TAC-89-004, 31 January 1989, p. 15].
[9] "Bes," "German Companies Confirm Deliveries of Component Parts to Libya," Frankfurter, 13 January 1989, p. 2 [Foreign Broadcast Information Service, JPRS-TAC-89-002, 19 January 1989, p. 45].
[10] "Doing Business With the Misery of Others?" Der Spiegel, 23 January 1989, pp. 16-27 [Foreign Broadcast Information Service, JPRS-TAC-89-004, 31 January 1989.]
[11] "K.B," "Siemens Denies Involvement in Libya," Frankfurter, 10 January 1989, p. 2 [Foreign Broadcast Information Service, JPRS-TAC-89-002, 19 January 1989, p. 41].
[12] "Doing Business With the Misery of Others?" pp. 16-27.
[13] Stefan Wagstyl, "Japan Probes Libya Chemical Arms 'Link,'" Financial Times, 17 September 1988, p. 3.
[14] Hamburg DPA, "Merck, Tewes Firms Also Implicated in Libya CW Affairs."
[15] "Doing Business With the Misery of Others?" pp. 16-27.
[16] David Hoffman and Lena H. Sun, "U.S. Tells China of Concern Over Report of Aid to Libya," The Washington Post, 7 June 1990, p. 34.
[17] "Doing Business With the Misery of Others?" pp. 16-27.
[18] Serge Schmemann, "Belgian Charged in Illicit Shipment For Libyan Plant," The New York Times, 13 January 989, p. A14.
[19] Serge Schmemann, "Belgian Charged in Illicit Shipment For Libyan Plant," The New York Times, 13 January 989, p. A14.
[20] Gertz, "Satellites Spot Poison-Bomb Plant in Libya," p. 3.
[21] Bill Gertz, "Chinese Move Seen As Aiding Libya in Making Poison Gas," The Washington Times, 12 July 1990, p. 6.
[22] It is reported that immediately prior to the fire convoys of trucks (presumably removing chemicals) were seen headed from the plant and workers at the plant were given an unexpected holiday.
[23] Jennifer Parmelee, "Libya Said to Offer to Dismantle Plant If It Is Given New One," The Washington Post, 3 May 1990, p. A33.
[24] Tim Weiner, "Huge Chemical Arms Plant Near Completion in Libya, U.S. Says," The New York Times, 25 February 1996, p. 8.
[25] Bill Gertz, "Satellites Spot Poison-Bomb Plant in Libya," The Washington Times, 5 March 1991, p. 3.
[26] Bill Gertz, "Satellites Spot Poison-Bomb Plant in Libya," The Washington Times, 5 March 1991, p. 3.
[27] Robert Waller, "Libyan CW Raises the Issue of Pre-Emption," Jane's Intelligence Review, November 1996, p. 523.
[28] "Libya Has Trouble Building the Most Deadly Weapons," The Risk Report, Vol. 1, No. 10, December 1995.
[29] Cordesman, Weapons of Mass Destruction in the Middle East, p. 29.
[30] Cordesman, Weapons of Mass Destruction in the Middle East, p. 29.
[31] Cordesman, Weapons of Mass Destruction in the Middle East, p. 29.
[32] In mid-1990, the President of Imhausen, Juergen Hippenstiel-Imhausen, was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison for tax evasion and export control violations in connection with work on the Rabta project. "West German Firm Said to Have Aided Libya with New Chemical Weapons Plant," Inside the Pentagon, 23 August 1990, p. 7.
[33] Marc Fisher, "Libya Deal Ends in Jail For German," The Washington Post, 28 June 1990, p. 33.
[34] "Another Chemical Plant Planned by Qaddafi," Insight, 11 June 1990, p. 40.
[35] "Another Chemical Plant Planned by Qaddafi," Insight, 11 June 1990, p. 40.
[36] Bill Gertz, "2nd Chemical Arms Plant Spied in Libya," The Washington Times, 18 June 1990, p. 1.
[37] Gertz, "Chinese Move Seen As Aiding Libya In Making Poison Gas," p. 6.
[38] Gertz, "Chinese Move Seen As Aiding Libya In Making Poison Gas," p. 6.
[39] James Bruce, "Qadhafi Tunnels Into Trouble Both Within and Without," Jane's Defence Weekly, 11 September 1996, p. 24.
[40] Uzi Mahnaimi, "US Fury As Gadaffi Steps Up Work on Mustard Gas Factory," The Sunday Times, (London), 9 March 1997.
[41] Waller, "Libyan CW Raises the Issue of Pre-Emption," p. 524; Mahnaimi, "US Fury As Gadaffi Steps Up Work on Mustard Gas Factory."
[42] Waller, "Target Qadhafi, Again," p. 46.
[43] Waller, "Target Qadhafi, Again," p. 46.
[44] Mahnaimi, "US Fury As Gadaffi Steps Up Work on Mustard Gas Factory."
[45] Silvia Aloisi, "Al Qadhafi's Secret Weapon," Milan Panorama, 16 April 1994; Foreign Broadcast Information Service, 11 May 1994, p. 3.
[46] Tim Weiner, "Huge Chemical Arms Plant Near Completion in Libya, U.S. Says," The New York Times, 25 February 1996, p. 8.
[47] Aloisi, "Al Qadhafi's Secret Weapon."
[48] Aloisi, "Al Qadhafi's Secret Weapon."
[49] Aloisi, "Al Qadhafi's Secret Weapon."
[50] Aloisi, "Al Qadhafi's Secret Weapon."
[51] Weiner, "Huge Chemical Arms Plant Near Completion in Libya, U.S. Says," p. 8.
[52] Waller, "Target Qadhafi, Again," p. 46.
[53] Waller, "Target Qadhafi, Again," p. 46.
[54] Aloisi, "Al Qadhafi's Secret Weapon," p. 3.
[55] President Mandela promised to have the South African Truth and Reconciliation Committee investigate claims that his country sold chemical weapons to Libya. Mandela said: "It is a matter of grave concern, because it may just be the tip of the iceberg. There may be a lot that has not been revealed." Middle East Economic Digest, 28 February 1997, p. 27.
[56] Aloisi, "Al Qadhafi's Secret Weapon," p. 3.
[57] Aloisi, "Al Qadhafi's Secret Weapon," p. 3.
[58] Raymond Bonner, "Germany's Search for Libya Suspect Finds Ties to Its Own Spies," The New York Times, 22 August 1996, p. 13.
[59] Reportedly, the U.S. government has been successful at persuading the governments of Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Japan, Denmark, Austria, Britain, and Poland to pressure their companies to stop deliveries of equipment related to the Tarhunah facility, purchased by Libya, although loopholes remain. Douglas Waller, "Target Qaddafi, Again," Time, 1 April 1996, p. 46.
[60] Philip Finnegan, "Libya Ceases Work on Chem Factory," Defense News, 16-22 December 1996, p. 1.
[61] Philip Finnegan, "Libya Ceases Work on Chem Factory," Defense News, 16-22 December 1996, p. 1.
[62] Philip Finnegan, "Libya Ceases Work on Chem Factory," Defense News, 16-22 December 1996, p. 19.
[63] Mahnaimi, "US Fury As Gadaffi Steps Up Work on Mustard Gas Factory."
[64] Mahnaimi, "US Fury As Gadaffi Steps Up Work on Mustard Gas Factory."
[65] Mahnaimi, "US Fury As Gadaffi Steps Up Work on Mustard Gas Factory."
[66] Alan George, "Libya–Poisonous Projects," Middle East (May 1993), p. 37.
[67] Alan George, "Libya–Poisonous Projects," Middle East (May 1993), p. 37.
[68] Cordesman, Weapons of Mass Destruction in the Middle East, p. 29.
[69] Central Intelligence Agency, "Attachment A: Unclassified Report to Congress on the Acquisition of Technology Relating to Weapons of Mass Destruction and Advanced Conventional Munitions, 1 January Through 30 June 2003," November 2003.
[70] Sabina Castelfranco, "Italy/Chemicals," Voice of America News Report, 17 January 2003.
[71] Sabina Castelfranco, "Italy/Chemicals," Voice of America News Report, 17 January 2003.
[72] Media and Public Affairs, External Relations Division, Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, "Libya to Adhere to the Chemical Weapons Convention," 22 December 2003.
[73] Media and Public Affairs, External Relations Division, Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, "Libya Joins the Chemical Weapons Convention," 14 January 2004.
[74] "Libya Reveals Mustard Gas Stockpile," VOA News, 5 March 2004.
[75] "Libya Reveals Mustard Gas Stockpile," VOA News, 5 March 2004.
[76] "Libya Reveals Mustard Gas Stockpile," VOA News, 5 March 2004.

Facilities Descriptions

Nuclear

For nearly three decades, Libya successfully disguised nuclear weapons activities alongside a peaceful nuclear program. Despite possessing few relevant indigenous resources, Libya constructed and operated a number of nuclear facilities through extensive (and often illicit) importation of the necessary materials and technologies — until 2003 these activities were part of a concerted effort to acquire nuclear weapons. Today, Libya possesses a small peaceful nuclear program, heavily focused on research into seawater desalination.

Relevant Individuals and Institutions

Muammar Qadhafi, who has controlled Libya's government since 1969, founded the nuclear program and continues to possess ultimate authority over all important decisions. Matoug M. Matoug, Secretary of the General People's Committee and Secretary of the National Board of Scientific Research (NBSR), has been the official head of Libya's nuclear program since 1995. Matoug also served as the Libyan government's representative in 2003 meetings with the Director General of the IAEA. [1] Prime Minister Al-Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmudi and Foreign Minister Abd al-Rahman Shalgham are often key players in bilateral and multilateral negotiations relating to the nuclear program. [2] The legislature defers to the executive branch on decisions concerning Libya's nuclear program and has no meaningful oversight role. [3] Libya's intelligence agency likely plays only a minimal role in the post-2003 nuclear program, but in the past it helped acquire outside information on nuclear technology to further Libyan weapons procurement. Musa Kusa is Qadhafi's chief of intelligence and was one of the chief negotiators in the 2003 dismantlement process.

Funding for the Nuclear Program

Funding details on Libya's abandoned clandestine program are incomplete, but in an interview with the Sunday Times, Saif Qadhafi claimed Libya had spent roughly $40 million on its nuclear program. [4] Libya purchased equipment and technology from the A.Q. Khan network and a number of different countries, ranging from centrifuges to nuclear weapon design plans. The exact cost of the nuclear weapon design plans is unknown. [5] According to Western officials, Libya also paid Pakistani scientists as much as $100 million for their technical assistance over several years beginning in the late 1990s. [6] Information on current budget allocations for the Libyan nuclear program is unavailable in open source literature, as Libya's budgetary process is highly opaque.

Libya's Past, Present, and Planned Nuclear Facilities

In 1973, the Atomic Energy Establishment (AEE) of Libya was formed. The main purpose of the AEE was to build Libya's nuclear science infrastructure and technology. According to an IAEA report, the aim of the program was to promote the use of peaceful applications of nuclear energy. [7] The Libyan Secretariat of Atomic Energy (SAE) was founded in January 1981, and the AEE was placed under its authority. Between 1986 and 2003, governmental entities charged with implementing Libya's nuclear policies changed identities frequently, but the SAE continues to maintain supervisory control over the nuclear program.

The SAE established the Tajoura Nuclear Research Center (TNRC) in 1983 "to solve problems of economic significance to the country via peaceful application of atomic energy." [8] Although a declared facility officially under IAEA safeguards, the TNRC was at the center of Libya's nuclear weapons program. It housed clandestine uranium enrichment, plutonium separation, and gas-centrifuge technologies. [9]

In 2003, Libya halted its uranium enrichment program and fully submitted to IAEA inspections. The extent of Libya's clandestine nuclear complex only became known to the international community upon the IAEA Director General's 2004 visit, when Libya revealed ten additional sites that had contributed to its illicit weapons efforts: Al-Hashan was Libya's first L-1 gas centrifuge research, development and limited testing location, operational from 1997 to 2002. Al-Khalla succeeded Al-Hashan as the new location for centrifuge research and development and was used to store UF6. Salah Eddin was the new site, after being moved from Al-Khalla, for the uranium conversion facility supplied by Japan in the 1980s. Janzour was a machine shop for centrifuge manufacture. Sabha was an underground storage facility for yellowcake. Sawani was the first storage location for the UCF and centrifuge equipment. Al-Karamia was the first storage location for UCF modules. El-Ezeizia was the original construction materials storage location. [10]

On 19 December 2003, Libya agreed to declare all nuclear activities to the IAEA, allow verification and inspection, and to eliminate its nuclear weapons program. Prior to Libya's 2003 decision to renounce weapons of mass destruction, the United Kingdom and United States had undertaken limited efforts with Qadhafi's regime to "build trust and reciprocity" so that a comprehensive disarmament deal would be possible in the future. [11] The post-2003 dismantlement process built on these efforts. [12] In 2004, the American and British governments worked with the IAEA to remove all nuclear-related equipment and materials from Libya. This process, conducted in three stages, focused on removing the most proliferation-sensitive materials and technologies from Libya first. It was completed in September 2004. [13]

Libya's nuclear program was (and continues to be) managed out of the National Board for Scientific Research (NBSR) headquarters. The National Board for Scientific Research has several different names, such as the National Bureau of Research and Development, but it is primarily responsible for Libya's higher education and research, maintaining production levels, strategic studies, and infrastructure. The organization recruits scientific expertise and coordinates nuclear research with other research institutes within Libya. Currently, Dr. Ali Mohamed Gashut is the Director General. [14] Outside of the REWDRC, some of the Nuclear Research Universities affiliated with the National Board for Scientific Research include Al- Fateh, the Department of Physics in Tripoli, the University of Garyounis Physics Department in Benghazi, and the Omar Al-Mukhtar University Department of Physics and Mathematics in El-Bieda. [15]

The site formerly known as the Tajoura Nuclear Research Center (TNRC), which served as the headquarters for Libya's covert nuclear weapons program, is also the center of Libya's post-2003 peaceful nuclear program. In 2003, the TNRC merged with the Water Desalination Treatment Research Center and the Solar Studies Center to become the Renewable Energies and Water Desalination Research Center (REWDRC). [16] The REWDRC specializes in research and development of the nuclear fuel cycle, utilization of nuclear technologies for peaceful purposes, research into renewable energies, and the desalination of seawater. Although it is unclear how many people presently work at the REWDRC, in 1979 the then TNRC employed 750 Libyan scientists and technicians. [17]

Currently, no open source evidence indicates the existence of operational uranium mining, uranium milling, uranium conversion, fuel fabrication or reprocessing facilities in Libya. [18] Should Libya choose to undertake uranium mining in the future, the Murzuq basin, Sarir Tibisti trough and Al Kufra basin are possible sources. However, these sites primarily contain iron ore mineral deposits. [19] The REWDRC still has a hot cell facility and equipment for large-scale radioisotope production and processing-equipment that was used for illicit plutonium extraction experiments in the 1980s. The REWDRC also hosts six chemical boxes, "available for handling beta and gamma emitting isotopes at millicurie levels," suggesting that the facility may still have limited reprocessing capabilities. [20]

Resultant to its burgeoning interest in nuclear power and other peaceful nuclear applications, Libya has undertaken several technical cooperation agreements with the IAEA, including projects to improve the REWDRC's nuclear safety and personnel training. Additionally, several different countries have offered to assist Libya in developing its desalination capabilities. France and Libya began negotiating a deal involving a desalination program and possibly a nuclear reactor in 2005, when French President Sarkozy met with Qadhafi to discuss the conclusion of a memorandum of understanding. In February 2007, the National Bureau for Research and Development (NBRD) signed a memorandum of understanding with France's Commissariat à l'énergie atomique and Areva for a program that would focus on desalinizing sea water, uranium exploration and production. In 2008, Tripoli consulted France and other foreign partners on the possible establishment of a medical isotope center, but no additional information has been released on the proposed project, suggesting negotiations have not yet yielded productive results. [21]

To undertake a nuclear power program, Libya must first meet the required technical, legislative, regulatory and training specifications before foreign investors will provide assistance. A new nuclear facility has yet to be constructed in Libya and the details of the French proposal for a nuclear reactor remain undisclosed; however, some reports claim the Libyans requested an EPR, Areva's 1,600-MW-class four-loop PWR. [22] Other reports state that Areva's Transmission and Distribution unit plans to strengthen Libya's power distribution network, but these rumors remain unconfirmed. [23] In 2007, Libya's ambassador indicated to the IAEA Board of Governors that it would be ten to fifteen years before his country constructed any nuclear power reactors. [24] In June and July 2009, Libya successfully negotiated civil nuclear cooperation agreements with Canada and Ukraine, with the goal of producing nuclear energy and desalinating seawater. [25] As of May 2010, there have been no significant developments regarding construction of new nuclear facilities in Libya.

Sources:
[1] "Libya Profile," Institute for Security Studies, www.iss.co.za.
[2] IAEA, "Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement of the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya," Report by the Director General, 20 February 2004, www.iaea.org.
[3] "Background Note: Libya," Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, U.S. Department of State, October 2007.
[4] "Libya Purchased Nuclear Weapons Plans From Pakistan, Qadhafi's Son Says," Global Security Newswire, 5 January 2004.
[5] "Libya Purchased Nuclear Weapons Plans From Pakistan, Qadhafi's Son Says," Global Security Newswire, 5 January 2004.
[6] "Libya Purchased Nuclear Weapons Plans From Pakistan, Qadhafi's Son Says," Global Security Newswire, 5 January 2004.
[7] IAEA, "Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya," Report by the Director General, 12 September 2008, www.iaea.org.
[8] "Tajoura Nuclear Research Center," Global Security, 2005, www.globalsecurity.org.
[9] Peter Crail, "Chronology of Libya's Disarmament and Relations with the United States," Arms Control Association, 2008.
[10] This list of previously undeclared facilities and their uses is taken from the 2004 IAEA Director General's report on Libya. See: IAEA, "Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement of the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya," Report by the Director General, 20 February 2004, pp. 9-10, www.iaea.org.
[11] Nuclear Programmes in the Middle East: In the Shadow of Iran, ed. Mark Fitzpatrick, London: the International Institute for Strategic Studies, 2008, p. 103.
[12] Nuclear Programmes in the Middle East: In the Shadow of Iran, ed. Mark Fitzpatrick, London: the International Institute for Strategic Studies, 2008, p. 104.
[13] Nuclear Programmes in the Middle East: In the Shadow of Iran, ed. Mark Fitzpatrick, London: the International Institute for Strategic Studies, 2008, p. 104.
[14] "Contact Information: Libyan Arab Jamahiriya," World Intellectual Property Organization, September 2008, www.wipo.int.
[15] "Nuclear Research in Libyan Arab Jamahiriya," www.iaea.org, 2004.
[16] "Renewable Energies and Water Desalination Research Center," 2008, www.tnrc.org.
[17] "Tajoura Nuclear Research Center," Global Security, 2005, www.globalsecurity.org.
[18] "Libya Country Profile: Nuclear Facilities Profile," Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, 2007, www.sipri.org.
[19] "Libya Country Profile 2000-01," The Economist Intelligence Unit, www.eiu.com.
[20] "Libya Country Profile: Nuclear Facilities Profile," Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, 2007, www.sipri.org.
[21] Nuclear Programmes in the Middle East: In the Shadow of Iran, ed. Mark Fitzpatrick, London: the International Institute for Strategic Studies, 2008, p. 106.
[22] Ann McLachlan, "France, Libya initial nuclear pact, emphasize infrastructure-building," Platts Nucleonics Week, Vol. 48, No. 50, 13 December 2007.
[23] Ann McLachlan, "France, Libya initial nuclear pact, emphasize infrastructure-building," Platts Nucleonics Week, Vol. 48, No. 50, 13 December 2007.
[24] Nuclear Programmes in the Middle East: In the Shadow of Iran, ed. Mark Fitzpatrick, London: the International Institute for Strategic Studies, 2008, p. 97.
[25] "Libya, Ukraine Sign Nuclear Power Deal," Agence France-Presse, 26 May 2009; "Libya and Canada Sign Nuclear Deal," Agence France-Presse, 30 July 2009.

Facilities Descriptions

Get the Facts on Libya
  • Purchased uranium enrichment technology and nuclear weapon design plans from the A.Q. Khan network
  • Still possesses 846 MT of chemical precursors slated for destruction by December 2016
  • Received missile technology assistance from China, the DPRK, Germany and Iran

This material is produced independently for NTI by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of and has not been independently verified by NTI or its directors, officers, employees, or agents. Copyright 2017.