This file photo shows a team of Libyan experts monitoring a dump tank, under the supervision of the United Nations, in the capital Tripoli. (AFP)
has shipped the last of its chemical weapons stocks out of the country under a UN-backed plan to ensure the arsenal does not fall into the wrong hands, officials say.
An unnamed senior Libyan security official said on Tuesday that the stocks were shipped to Germany
on a Danish vessel on Saturday from the western port of Misrata.
“We as Libyans did not want these weapons, especially during the current security situation and with the presence of IS in the region,” AFP quoted the security official as saying.
Meanwhile, the deputy prime minister of Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA), Mussa el-Koni, has confirmed the operation, which took place under the supervision of the UN-backed Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
“All of Libya’s chemical arsenal has been shipped out of the country,” Koni said, adding, “This is good news
for Libya, and for the peace of Libya, and we thank all the countries that participated and the UN.”
The deputy prime minister added that the stocks had been stored in the central Jafa area, about 200 kilometers (125 miles) south of Sirte, where Libyan pro-government forces are battling the Daesh Takfiri terrorists.
The file photo shows chemical containers in an unguarded storage facility in the desert, south of Sirte, Libya. (AP)
The move will ease fears that extremists such as Daesh could gain access to the weapons in the violence-wracked country.
The Danish government had earlier this month offered to send a container vessel, support ship and 200 staff to handle the operation.
In an emailed statement, the OPCW has said, “We are not in a position to disclose operational details of an ongoing effort.”
The OPCW, specified, however, that the stocks in question “are industrial chemicals in wide use as well as precursor chemicals that are several stages away from being actual chemical weapons.”
A German Defense Ministry spokesman said the shipment, which contains “about 500 tonnes of toxic chemical products,” would arrive in Germany “in the coming weeks.”
The spokesman added that the arsenal would be destroyed by GEKA, Germany’s state-owned company for disposing of chemical weapons.
“These chemical products can be used to produce toxic gases or warfare agents, but are not toxic gases or warfare agents,” the spokesman said.
Members of the forces loyal to Libya’s UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) walk toward their position in the coastal city of Sirte prior to their military operation to clear Daesh terrorists from the city, August 28, 2016. (AFP)
The UN Security Council on July 22 unanimously endorsed a resolution calling on the international community to assist the destruction of chemical weapons in Libya, where Daesh has gained a foothold over the past months.
The 15-member council authorized UN “member states to acquire, control, transport, transfer and destroy chemical weapons … to ensure the elimination of Libya’s chemical weapons stockpile in the soonest and safest manner.”
Libya, which joined the UN convention on eliminating chemical weapons in 2004, has been dominated by violence since a NATO military intervention followed the 2011 uprising that led to the toppling and killing of longtime dictator, Muammar Gaddafi.
Daesh has taken advantage of the political chaos in Libya to increase its presence there.