UN Urges Libya to Secure Chemical Weapons

UN's Ban Ki-moon says Libya must quickly secure any chemical weapons and nuclear materials left unguarded during the civil war.

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Elad Benari,

Man tries on gas mask (illustrative)
Man tries on gas mask (illustrative)
Israel news photo: Flash 90

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged Libya’s new leaders to quickly secure chemical weapons, nuclear materials and shoulder-fired missiles, some of which have been left unguarded during the civil war that toppled Muammar Qaddafi’s regime.

According to a report in The Associated Press on Wednesday, Ban said he was encouraged by a pledge from Libya’s interim leader, Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, to protect the weapons sites.

However, AP reported, unsecured stockpiles of missiles and other munitions were still being discovered as recently as late last month, and Abdul-Jalil has asked the international community to release more of the billions of dollars in Libyan assets that have been frozen in order to get the job done.

“We have many suggestions on how to locate and control these weapons,” Abdul-Jalil was quoted as having told reporters at a joint news conference with Ban. “However, lack of funds prevents us from doing much at this time.”

Earlier this week, Libya’s Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril confirmed the presence of chemical weapons in Libya.

Jibril said would not provide any details about the chemical weapons and would only say that “there are international organizations taking care of this issue.” He emphasized that the new Libya aims to be a peaceful nation and, as such, has no interest in chemical weapons.

During the civil war in Libya, it was confirmed that former dictator Muammar Qaddafi had ten tons of mustard gas stockpiled, and it was feared he might use it on opposition forces seeking to bring an end to his regime.

The U.S. State Department later said, however, that it believes the mustard gas stockpiles are secure.

AP reported that inspectors from the Organization for the Protection of Chemical Weapons were due to arrive in Libya on Wednesday.