Bush to give Libya time to fulfill pledge before lifting sanctions

Tuesday, January 6, 2004

President George Bush has decided to maintain sanctions on Libya despite its pledge to end Tripoli's medium-range missile program and place its nuclear project under international supervision.

Bush told Congress that the United States wanted to wait until Libya implements its commitments to eliminate weapons of mass destruction before lifting sanctions. The president did not say how long this would take.

The letter, dated Jan. 5, was meant to ensure the continuation of sanctions on Libya as part of the National Emergencies Act declared by Washington in 1986. U.S. economic sanctions, which included a ban on the use of U.S. passports for travel to Libya, was to have expired on Wednesday.

Last month, Libya announced agreement to eliminate its WMD programs. The son of Libyan ruler Moammar Khaddafy, Seif Al Islam, said his country's secret nuclear program was based on Pakistani technology, an assertion that has not been confirmed by the administration. U.S. officials have identified Iran and North Korea as major contributors to Libya's nuclear program, Middle East Newsline reported.

Officials said the presidential decision extends U.S. sanctions on Tripoli for up to another year.

An agreement for Libya to pay $2.7 billion in compensation to the families of the 270 victims of the 1988 Pan Am airliner bombing has been linked to the removal of U.S. sanctions on Tripoli by April 2004. Officials have not ruled out this deadline, but said the administration was not obliged by this accord.

On Dec. 19, Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Khaddafy had agreed to eliminate Libya's chemical and nuclear weapons program, accept international inspections, sign the Additional Protocol of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and accede to the Chemical Weapons Convention. Libya also pledged to eliminate ballistic missiles beyond a range of 300 kilometers.

"Despite the positive developments, the crisis with respect to Libya has not been fully resolved," the presidential notification to Congress read, "and I have therefore determined that it is necessary to continue the national emergency declared with respect to Libya and maintain in force the comprehensive sanctions against Libya."

Last week, officials from Britain and the United States met in London to coordinate policy on Libya as well as ensure the elimination of its WMD programs. Officials said London and Washington have offered to restore diplomatic, energy and security ties with Tripoli after Libya implements its commitments.

"I would say that the U.S. government is working with the British and Libyan governments and the IAEA to determine how best we all together can assist Libya in getting rid of its WMD programs," State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli said. "We've got a political agreement with Libya under which we will need to help ensure and expedite the removal of all weapons-related aspects of Libya's nuclear program."

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