Libya's NTC pledges to destroy chemical weapons: OPCW

4th November 2011, Comments 0 comments

Libya's National Transitional Council has pledged to continue with the previous regime's programme of destroying its chemical weapons stockpiles, an international monitoring group said Friday.

"The new authorities inherited the obligations of the old regime as a state party to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons," the organisation's spokesman Michael Luhan said at its headquarters in The Hague.

"The new authorities accepted this heritage," he told AFP.

Slain leader Moamer Kadhafi's regime joined the OPCW in 2004, but had yet to destroy 11.5 tonnes of mustard gas, representing 45 percent of its initial stock when the rebellion that toppled him was launched in mid-February.

"The destruction facility malfunctioned in February, so when destruction resumes will depend on when the facility is repaired," Luhan said, but stressed that the NTC should destroy all chemical weapons by April 29, 2012.

Libya destroyed its total stockpile of 3,500 munitions including bombs, shells and missiles which could be used to deliver chemical weapons such as mustard gas, shortly after joining the convention in 2004, the OPCW said.

Mustard gas causes serious chemical burns in the eyes, on the skin, and in the lungs.

The new Libyan authorities also told the OPCW on Tuesday that further stocks of what were believed to be chemical weapons had been found, but the find needed to be verified.

The NTC declared "total liberation" in Libya on October 23, three days after Kadhafi's death following his capture.

Libyan academic Abdel Rahim al-Kib has been charged to form a interim government by November 23, tasked with disarming the country and getting its economy back on its feet.

© 2011 AFP

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