Libya to give up NBC weapons development 

Libya to give up NBC weapons development


Libya to give up WMD

Libya's leader Colonel Gaddafi has said his country sought to develop weapons of mass destruction capabilities but will dismantle this programme completely.

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair announced the decision and called it "an historic one and a courageous one and I applaud it".

Colonel Gaddafi had told him the process of dismantling the programme would be "transparent and verifiable", the prime minister said in a statement from Durham Cathedral.

The range of all Libya's missiles would be restricted to "no more then 300km", he added.

The US and its allies have long suspected that Libya had secret chemical and bio-weapons programmes, however Libya always denied such allegations saying it had only facilities for pharmaceutical or agricultural research.

In 1995 the country reportedly reopened its Rabta phramaceutical plant, at Qabilat az Zaribah, which prior to its 1990 closure had produced up to 100 tons of chemical weapons.

But chemical weapon production at Libya's undergorund Tarhuna facility is thought to have been suspended following intense public scrutiny.

US President George Bush said Colonel Gaddafi had agreed "immediately and unconditionally" that international weapons inspectors could enter Libya.

"Colonel Gaddafi's's commitment, once fulfiled, will make our country more safe and our world more peaceful," President Bush said.

"Leaders who abandon the pursuit of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them will find an open path to better relations with the US and other nations."

Mr Blair said Britain had been engaged in talks with Libya for nine months.

"Libya came to us in March following successful negotiations on Lockerbie to see if it could resolve its weapons of mass destruction issue in a similarly cooperative manner," he said.

The decision entitled Libya to rejoin the international community, Mr Blair said.

Colonel Gadaffi's decision would "make the region and the world more secure", Mr Blair said.

"It shows that problems of proliferation can, with good will, be tackled through discussion and engagement, to be followed up by the responsible international agencies.

"It demonstrates that countries can abandon programmes voluntarily and peacefully.

BBC world affairs editor John Simpson said Libya had not been at the centre of the war on terror.

But it had always been regarded as a "friend of terrorists" and had, for example, helped the IRA in the 1970s.

Simpson suggested that Colonel Gaddafi had been heavily influenced by a visit from Nelson Mandela, at a time when he was shunned by the rest of the world.


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