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
"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.
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
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
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
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