Ahmet Uzumcu, director general of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), speaks during a Feb. 4 press conference in Tripoli. Libya announced it has destroyed its entire stock of chemical weapons inherited from the regime of Libya's late dictator Moammar Gadhafi. (Mahmud Turkia / AFP)
TRIPOLI — Libya has completely destroyed the chemical arsenal it inherited from the ousted dictatorship of Moammar Gadhafi, Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdelaziz announced on Tuesday.
“Libya has become totally free of usable chemical weapons that might present a potential threat to the security of local communities, the environment and neighboring areas,” the minister said.
“This achievement would not have been possible in such a short time, without concerted efforts within an international partnership, or without the logistical support and the technical assistance from Canada, Germany and the USA, which provided the opportunity to use very advanced, safe and reliable technology.”
Abdelaziz was speaking at a ceremony to mark the milestone that was attended by Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) chief Ahmet Uzumcu, who hailed international support for the disarmament operation, which he said was now being mirrored in Syria.
It provided a “good example of international cooperation now emulated in Syria on a larger scale,” the OPCW chief said.
The Syrian disarmament operation, agreed to by Damascus last year under threat of Western military action, is running seriously behind schedule, sparking mounting concern in Washington.
Syria has declared around 700 tons of most-dangerous chemicals, which were supposed to have been shipped out by Dec. 31. Another 500 tonnes of less-dangerous precursor chemicals were supposed to have been shipped out by Wednesday.
But so far just two small shipments have left the Syrian port of Latakia, accounting for less than four percent of the country’s declared arsenal of most dangerous chemicals.