U.S. won't lift sanctions on Libya until WMD concerns answered

Monday, August 18, 2003

The United States has pledged to maintain sanctions on Libya in wake of its $2.7 billion compensation package for the families of victims of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing.

The Bush administration said the United States would not block the lifting of United Nations sanctions on Tripoli as part of the resolution of the Lockerbie episode. On Friday, Libya formally accepted responsibility for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Scotland in 1988.

But a White House statement said U.S. sanctions on Libya would remain until the regime of Moammar Khaddafy responds to Washington's concerns on Tripoli's missile and weapons of mass destruction programs. The statement also said Libya must take additional steps against terrorism, Middle East Newsline reported.

"The Libyan regime's behavior including its poor human rights record and lack of democratic institutions, its destructive role in perpetuating regional conflicts in Africa, and its continued and worrisome pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and their related delivery systems remains a cause for serious concern," the White House said. "The United States will intensify its efforts to end threatening elements of Libya's behavior, and U.S. bilateral sanctions on Libya will remain in full force until Libya addresses these concerns. Libya must also continue to take definitive action to assist in the fight against international terrorism."

Under the terms of the compensation package, Libya would pay only half of the $2.7 billion should the United States fail to lift its sanctions. The package, meant to grant $10 million to the family of each victim, calls for Washington to lift all sanctions within eight months of the deposit of the compensation fee to a Swiss escrow account.

Officials said Libya continues to be a source of concern for the United States. They said Tripoli continues development of medium-range missiles as well as biological and chemical weapons. In addition, Tripoli has supported anti-U.S. regimes in Africa such as the Central African Republic, Liberia and Zimbabwe with weapons and money.

Earlier, Libya issued a letter to the UN Security Council that acknowledged responsibility for the 1988 Lockerbie bombing. But the letter, which pledged cooperation against what it termed terrorism, did not specify any responsibility by Khaddafy or his regime.

"Libya as a sovereign state accepts responsibilities for the actions of its officials," Libyan envoy to the UN Ahmed Own said in the letter.

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