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MOSCOW, October 31 (Itar-Tass) —— The chemical weapons found by rebels in Libya are needed by the United States and NATO in order to justify their further presence in that country, military expert, Lieutenant-General Leonid Sazhin said.
The question of chemical weapons arose immediately after the U.S. and NATO interference in Libya’s internal affairs under the pretext of “defending civilians”, he told Itar-Tass on Monday, October 31.
“This issue was initiated by the U.S. Its representatives, citing the rebels who found the weapons, which no one was ever hiding, started to speak about the danger of their use against the National Transitional Council and NATO and about their possible seizure by international terrorists,” Sazhin said.
He recalled that “the U.S. knew all along how Libya was disposing of yperite under the supervision of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons because it was directly involved in this process”.
“It got so far that because of the excessively large number of Americans in the country who were ‘overseeing the disposal of yperite’, Gaddafi imposed restrictions on the issue of entry visas for some U.S. officials who wished to participate in the supervision. On U.S. demand Gaddafi even destroyed about 2,500 empty aerial bombs intended for being filled with yperite,” Sazhin said.
“The U.S. and its allies know very well where the rebels found Gaddafi’s chemical weapons – this is a chemical facility in Rabta south of Tripoli where yperite was destroyed under the Libyan leader. All this fuss about chemical weapons in Libya is needed for the sole purpose of ensuring the U.S. and NATO presence in Libya indefinitely under the guise of their full disposal. This is an almost complete repetition of the Iraqi scenario when the U.S. and its allies also carried out an armed operation in search of weapons of mass destruction. None was found, but the dictator detested by the West was hanged,” Sazhin said.
At the time of its collapse, the Gaddafi regime had about 9.5 tonnes of yperite, which however had lost all of its toxic properties due to long storage, the radiological, chemical and biological defence commander’s office said.
The statement followed the Libyan National Transitional Council has announced the discovery of stockpiles of chemical weapons belonging to the Gaddafi regime.
“In the 1970s, Gaddafi held about 23 tonnes of yperite, but after its stockpiles were destroyed under international control, about 9.5 tonnes of this combat tox agent remained, but it has disintegrated during long storage and is no longer dangerous,” the office said.
The Gaddafi regime in Libya could have up to 11 tonnes of yperite and it is not clear who controls it now, an expert said.
“In May of this year, in the midst of the war in Libya, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) reported that Libya requested a new schedule for the disposal of chemical weapons,” Anatoly Yegorin, leading researcher at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said.
The previous deadline for the disposal of chemical weapons in Libya “expired on May 1, and it was hardly possible to meet it because of the NATO armed operation against the Jamahiriya”, he said.
According to the OPCW, “Libya had destroyed 55 percent of its yperite stockpiles by March” which means that “Gaddafi could still have 11.25 tonnes of this toxic agent but he resisted the temptation to use it one way or another”, Yegorin said.
Libya joined the OPCW in 2004 when relations between Tripoli and Western capitals had thawed. On February 20, 2004, the country submitted to the OPCW an initial partial declaration on its stockpiles of toxic agents. “It was then that the U.S. and its allies made the Jamahiriya an example for other pariah states to follow,” the official said.
Libya was not the only country that had failed to meet the original OPCW deadlines for disposal of chemical weapons. “Let us recall that on December 11, 2006, the OPCW made the decision to give extra time to some countries for the destruction of their stockpiles of combat toxic agents. In addition to Libya, the list also included the United States, India and Russia. It was initially expected that Libya should destroy its combat toxic agents by April 29, 2007. But because of the delay, the OPCW moved the deadline to December 2010,” Yegorin said.
“The main question now is who controls the stockpiles of Libyan combat toxic agents. The National Transitional Council claims that it keeps the situation under control. However the Council is too heterogeneous an organisation. Who can guarantee that combat toxic agents won’t be stolen from Gaddafi’s depots as man-portable air-defence systems were stolen by rebels” Two shipments of MANPADs, mostly likely originating in Libya, were seized in neighbouring Egypt,” the expert said.
National Transitional Council Head Mahmoud Jibril confirmed on Sunday, October 30, that Libya has chemical weapons. He said foreign inspectors would come to Libya this week to investigate the matter.