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Russia’s deputy FM voices concern over risk Libyan chemical weapons may be put to use

October 29, 2014, 13:42 UTC+3 VIENNA
Although the Syrian issue is practically settled, the risk of chemical weapons getting into wrong hands in Lybia still remains, says Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov
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Disposal of chemical weapons (archive)

Disposal of chemical weapons (archive)


VIENNA, October 29. /TASS/. The elimination of the last facilities related to Syria’s chemical weapons program will be completed within months, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov told the media on Wednesday.

“The Syrian issue is practically settled, chemical weapons there have been eliminated. The few outstanding issues are of no cardinal importance to evaluating the chemical weapons situation,” he said.

In the meantime, Gatilov voiced alarm over the remaining risk chemical weapons in Libya might go out of control.”

“The country is practically disintegrated. Nobody controls anything. The risk of uncontrolled use of these chemical agents or weapons remains,” he warned.

“We talked about that long ago, when NATO’s bombardments were still in progress. We kept warning that it was fraught with the proliferation of these weapons about the entire region of North Africa. Now it has happened,” Gatilov recalled. “Some have been moved to Mali to end up in the hands of terrorists, and others were smuggled to Syria.”

Struggle against Islamic State

Gatilov warned there was a major risk the Islamic State might use chemical weapons. He remarked that the Russian Foreign Ministry did not have any evidence yet that extremist group had employed chemical warfare agents, but remarked that such risk did exist.

“Aware of the Islamic State’s tactics and its methods of conducting combat operations one cannot be certain this will not happen. One should be prepared for any march of events,” Gatilov said.

It will be difficult for the anti-terrorist coalition to achieve any results in the struggle against the Islamic State extremist group without cooperation with the Syrian authorities, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov went on to say.

“From the very beginning the Syrian government said it was ready to cooperate in this issue. But we’re again faced with the position of our Western colleagues, who do not want to cooperate with the Bashar al-Assad government for their reasons — because they consider this regime illegitimate,” he said.

The present situation runs counter to international law when the coalition delivers strikes on the Syrian state. “Any actions that the coalition is taking towards the Islamic State (in the territory of Syria) are in essence considered illegal because without the legitimate government’s consent this can be only described as the violation of sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Gatilov said.

The Western partners were late in realizing the threat to justify terrorists. “We told our partners long ago, a couple of years ago, that it was necessary to look at the threat of terrorism. But unfortunately, nobody heard us because the Western countries had their goal, and indeed it (the goal) remains the only one: to overthrow the regime of (Syrian President) Bashar al-Assad,” he said.

“At that moment they believed that all measures were good. Now we’ve faced with the situation when terrorism went to Iraq from Syria. The Islamic State with the corresponding ideological attitude is created de facto in the territory of two Middle East states,” Gatilov said.

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