Libya Officially Free of Chemical Weapons

(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)

Libya sent its last stockpile of chemical weapons to Germany following a UN-backed plan to make sure the chemical weapons are not obtained by the wrong people, said Libyan officials on Tuesday.

The departure of the chemical weapons out of Libya brought relief to many who feared that ISIS might get the chemical weapons and use them against Libyan forces and innocent civilians.

The final shipment, which included 23 tanks of chemicals, was shipped out from Misrata’s port on a vessel to Denmark on Saturday with UN supervision. The shipment’s final destination is Germany.

The chemicals were stored in central Jafa area, close to 200 kilometres south of Sirte, where Libyan forces are in battle against ISIS.

“We as Libyans did not want these weapons, especially during the current security situation and with the presence of ISIS in the region,” said the security official.

“All of Libya’s chemical arsenal has been shipped out of the country. This is good news for Libya, and for the peace of Libya, and we thank all the countries that participated and the UN,” said Mussa El-Koni, the Libyan deputy prime minister.

Earlier this month, Denmark offered to send to Libya a container vessel, support ship and 200 staff to assist in the removal of chemicals. The operation was to be coordinated with the UN-backed Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

OPCW has yet to make any statements about the progress of the operation.

A spokesperson for the German minister of defense said that Germany is expecting to receiving the shipment “in the coming weeks”. The shipment of “about 500 tonnes of toxic chemical products” will be disposed by GEKA, a state-owned company.

“These chemical products can be used to produce toxic gases or warfare agents, but are not toxic gases or warfare agents,” said the spokesperson.

Denmark said it “can neither confirm nor deny” it has any role in this operation.

On July 22, the UN Security Council supported the efforts to remove chemical weapons from Libya, a country that was facing an overwhelming level of chaos.

Libya became a member of the UN convention of eliminating chemical weapons in 2004 during the rule of the deposed dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

Libya at the time declared it had 24.7 tonnes of sulphur mustard, over 3,500 aerial bombs containing chemical weapons and 1,390 tonnes of precursor chemicals.

Libya got rid of all the aerial bombs, over half of its stock of sulphur mustard and less than half of its stock of precursor chemicals by 2011. OPCW said efforts to dispose of the chemical weapons were interrupted by the Libyan uprising to depose Gaddafi that began in February 2011.

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