Libya has raised new conditions that could delay a
British-U.S. effort to dismantle Tripoli's missile and weapons of mass
The new terms come as a senior Libyan official asserted that a
British-U.S. team in the North African country would not be allowed to begin
the dismantling of Libya's missile and WMD assets. Neither London nor
Washington has confirmed this.
Libyan Foreign Minister Abdul Rahman Shalgam said Tripoli would not
allow the British-U.S. team to dismantle its missile and WMD arsenal.
Shalgam's assertion disputed that of British and U.S. officials, who
said the British-U.S. team would dismantle and destroy
Libyan WMD and extended-range missiles. The officials said the IAEA would
monitor the effort, Middle East Newsline reported.
Shalgam said the IAEA would also not engage in dismantling components of
Libya's nuclear program.
"This [visit] would be a verification of commitment to the
Non-Proliferation Treaty and its Additional Protocol," Shalgam said.
The Additional Protocol of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty would
enable the International Atomic Energy Agency to undertake rapid and
intrusive inspections of suspected nuclear facilities. Shalgam did not say
when Tripoli would sign the protocol.
Seif Al Islam, the son of Libyan ruler Moammar Khaddafy who helped
arrange the WMD deal, said Libya would have to be compensated for the
destruction of any nuclear equipment. He suggested that Libya's nuclear
program had been also meant to power water desalination plants.
In December, Libya announced its agreement to end its medium-range and
WMD programs. Tripoli also said it would sign the Additional Protocol of the
On Sunday, a U.S. congressional delegation began talks in Tripoli with
Libyan leaders. The delegation did not cite Shalgam's statement.
"We are extremely excited about the direction your leader has taken in
recent months," Rep. Curt Weldon, an Armed Services subcommittee chairman,
said. "We want to be friends with the Libyan people and work together with
them on common concerns."
Libya's agreement to dismantle its missile and WMD arsenal has angered
several Arab countries, particularly neighboring
Egypt. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and the state-owned Egyptian media
have criticized the Libyan decision and warned that it would benefit Israel,
said to have a nuclear weapons program.
Shalgam said Libya's new relations with the United States would not
affect Tripoli's ties with the Arab world. He cited Egypt's close military
cooperation with Washington.
"There should be a practical framework for relations with Egypt without
angry responses from the press in Egypt or in Libya," Shalgam said.