Tripoli, 1 May:
Libya has provided the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) a schedule for the destruction of 13 . . .[restrict]tonnes of chemical weapons stockpiled by the Qaddafi regime. The organization had given Libya a deadline of 29 April to provide it with a detailed plan.
The OPCW has confirmed that it received the plan shortly ahead of the deadline.
Following a visit to Libya by an OPCW team in January to investigate previously undisclosed chemical weapons discovered after the overthrow of the Qaddafi regime, Libya was give the April deadline to disclose how it would deal with the stockpile. The newly discovered chemicals consist of unweaponised sulphur mustard agent and chemical munitions, mainly artillery shells.
They are held at a depot in the Rowagha in central Libya along with sulfur mustard and other related chemicals used in the making of mustard gas which were declared by the Qaddafi regime when Libya joined the OPCW in 2004.
At the time it said it had of 25 tonnes of mustard agent, 1,400 tonnes of precursor chemicals and more than 3,500 unfilled aerial bombs for use with sulphur mustard gas. Libya had three chemical weapons production facilities.
According to the OPCW, the Qadafi regime destroyed about 54 percent of the declared sulfur mustard and about 40 percent of the precursor chemical before operations stopped in Rowagha at the beginning of last year, before the revolution started when the destruction facility malfunctioned. With the revolution staff then left the site.
The facility is now fully functional again but chemicals are not yet being destroyed.
Also at the depot are quantities of other weapons awaiting destruction taken there since the revolution.
Libya’s plans on the destruction of the chemical weapons will now be reviewed by the OPCW’s executive council. No date has been released as to when the destruction will take place, but the OPCW believes it will occur with the next six months. The destruction has to be verified by OPCW inspectors and so far there is no accommodation for them on site.
There is also concern about the security of the Rowagha site.
Last week it was announced that Canada was giving the OPCW €4.5m to help the destruction of Libyan chemical weapons. It is the biggest donation in the organisation’s history.