NBC Weapons: Libya Gets Clean

Archives

:

NUCLEAR, BIOLOGICAL AND CHEMICAL WEAPONS

February 7, 2018: During the first week of 2018 Germany confirmed that it had destroyed the last 500 tons of Libyan precursor chemicals for making nerve gas. This was actually completed in November 2017 at a special facility in Germany. The chemicals had been secretly moved to a Libyan port and in August 2016 a Dutch tanker equipped for this sort of thing quietly picked them up and transported the chemical to Germany. This ended a five year, largely secret (to prevent Libyan Islamic terror groups from interfering) effort to complete the destruction of Libyan chemical weapons that began in the late 1990s.

In late 2014 Libya asked for foreign assistance in destroying its remaining stockpile of raw materials for making nerve gas. Although facilities for the destruction of this stuff have been built in Libya and Libyans trained to do it, the chaos in Libya since the Kaddafi government was overthrown in 2011 have prevented the work from being completed. So the Libyans were asking for the 850 tons of chemicals to be shipped out and destroyed overseas as was recently done with a similar Syrian stockpile. By early 2014 the United States had quietly sent a team of technicians with a portable oven to covertly destroy the last chemical bombs and shells in Libya. These were stored in south central Libya (Jufra/Jofra province, 770 kilometers south of Tripoli). This area was becoming more vulnerable to capture by local Islamic terror groups and there were still some Libyan factions that were willing to do whatever they could to destroy the remaining stockpile of chemicals that could be used to make nerve gas.

Foreign nations agreed to provide experts and equipment to help destroy Libyan chemical weapons long before the 2011 revolution. Moamar Kaddafi stockpiled nerve, mustard, and several other types of poisons over the decades. Some of these chemicals are so old that they are dangerous to handle. This is what made the portable oven essential during the secret 2014 operation.

This destruction process really got started in 2004 when Libya handed over to international disarmament officials details about Libya's chemical weapons program. Libya described one chemical weapons production facility and stockpiles containing thousands of tons of raw materials needed to manufacture sarin nerve gas as well as two large stockpiles containing 22 tons of mustard gas.

At the same time Libya announced it would begin destroying more than 3,300 unfilled chemical bombs, with the help of foreign experts. This process was still incomplete when the Kaddafi dictatorship was overthrown in 2011 and that’s what led to the secret mobile over operation as well as the stealthy removal of the nerve gas raw materials so they would be destroyed in Germany.

 


Article Archive

NBC Weapons: Current 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 1999 


X

ad

Now That We Have Your Attention!

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close