Libya's new interim government confirmed Monday that stockpiles of chemical weapons belonging to Muammar Gaddafi’s weapons of mass destruction program have been discovered, but has quickly moved to deny any intentions of keeping them.
Mahmour Jibril, acting Prime Minister of the transitional council, told reporters that he is expecting foreign inspectors to visit the sites later this week and address the issue.
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, based in Hague, has said it is going to use state-of-the-art technology to dispose of the weapons. The government is searching for other suspected sites, which might also harbor large weapon caches.
Jibril has said that all of these weapons have been created or brought in by Gaddafi, and he has pledged his full support towards the U.N.’s efforts to shut down all nuclear, chemical or biological weapons programs.
According to a U.N. resolution that is to be voted on this week, Libyan authorities will be required to dispose of any chemical weapons discovered. The U.S. State Department has also been trying to assure that scientists under Gaddafi’s regime who had been working on weapons of mass destruction are barred from continuing their work for terrorist organizations.
Although Gaddafi had consented to abandoning the weapons program back in 2003, U.N. officials warned that many such weapon sites might still exist on the territory. Human Rights Watch reported to have found hundreds of thousands of anti-tank mines among other dangerous weapons at various underground sites – some of them hidden under fruit trees.
The disclosure of the newly discovered weapons comes on the day that NATO decided to end its seven-month military operation in Libya, with the Unites Nationals Security Council voting to pull troops out after Gaddafi’s regime was toppled and the former leader was killed.
Jibril was unable to provide a more detailed description of the weapons, and is set to resign in wake of the creation of Libya’s new government.