U.S. ships 35 tons of WMD
out of Libya

Thursday, January 29, 2004

The United States has flown the first weapons of mass destruction and extended-range missiles out of Libya.

The White House said the first components of Libya's missile WMD arsenal arrived in the United States on Tuesday after a last-minute agreement was reached with the Libyan regime. The White House said the shipment was composed of 25 tons of equipment that included uranium enrichment components and documents on Libya's strategic programs.

Officials said a C-17 air transport flew the Libyan WMD to the Oak Ridge nuclear weapons plant in Tennessee, the leading U.S. facility for the storage of weapons-grade uranium. They said the shipment consisted of UF-6 uranium-hexafluoride, required for uranium enrichment, components for centrifuges, and guidance systems for extended Scud C and D missiles.

Officials said Iran, North Korea and Pakistan were the key suppliers to Libya's missile and WMD programs, Middle East Newsline reported.

Last week, Libyan leaders expressed hesitation over U.S. plans to immediately destroy Libya's medium-range missile and WMD facilities and raised several conditions, including compensation for the removal of Libyan strategic assets.

"While these shipments are only the beginning of the elimination of Libya's weapons, these shipments, as well as the close cooperation on the ground in Libya, reflect real progress in Libya meeting its commitments," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said.

"Rising Tide Lifts All Boats"
Writes the Wall Street Journal about the 2003 stock market. Members of this relatively unknown newsletter have profited from possibly the best track record in the US. If you're not in the stock market right now you're missing the boat and if you're not reading The Intrepid Investor you may be lost at sea.

McClellan said that last week the United States removed from Libya what he termed the "most sensitive documentation associated" with Tripoli's nuclear weapons program. He said a British-U.S. team has begun destroying Libya's chemical weapons.

The U.S. transfer of Libyan WMD came in wake of an agreement by the Bush administration to pay for the dismantling effort and ensure that Tripoli would continue to maintain a civilian nuclear program. Officials said the administration will propose to Congress that Libya be included in a U.S. program that encourages foreign countries to dismantle their biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. They said this would include U.S. funding for the dismantling of WMD as well as employment for scientists involved in nonconventional weapons programs.

But congressional leaders have agreed to consider any U.S. funding request for Libya. A congressional delegation has been discussing this and other issues with Libyan leaders during their visit to Tripoli this week.

"It is an historic moment when an Arab country decides to dismantle its weapons of mass destruction and requests assistance from the U.S. and the UK," Rep. Tom Lantos, the leading Democrat on the House International Relations Committee, said. "It has far-reaching consequences way beyond Libya."

For the last decade, the United States has operated a program to eliminate nuclear weapons and facilities in Russia and republics of the former Soviet Union. The so-called Threat Reduction program has also led to the retraining and employment of thousands of nuclear scientists in those countries to prevent their recruitment by such Middle East states as Iran and Syria.

Officials said a 12-member British-U.S. team would remove only Libyan components that could be used for WMD or the conversion of civilian to nonconventional military assets. They said Libyan nuclear equipment that could be used for a civilian program under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency would remain in Libya.

This could ensure the continuation of the Tajura nuclear center outside Tripoli. Tajura has been called the heart of Libya's nascent nuclear weapons program.

Print this Article Print this Article Email this article Email this article Subscribe to this Feature Free Headline Alerts
Search Worldwide Web Search Search WorldTrib Archives

See current edition of

Return to World Front Cover