OPCW Inspectors Verify Newly Declared Chemical Weapons Materials in Libya

A team of OPCW inspectors visited Libya from 17 to 19 January 2012 to verify previously undisclosed chemical weapons that were discovered after the fall of the former regime. The new government in Tripoli announced the discovery last year and submitted a formal declaration of the weapons to the OPCW on 28 November.

The two-fold purpose of this inspection was to verify the new declaration in terms of types and quantities of chemical weapons, and to assist Libyan authorities in determining whether another set of discovered materials is declarable under the provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention. The mission was carried out with the logistical support of the Federal Republic of Germany and the UN Department of Safety and Security, and with the full cooperation of Libyan authorities.

The OPCW inspectors verified the declared chemical weapons, which consist of sulfur mustard agent that is not loaded into munitions. At the same time, at the request of the Libyan authorities the inspectors examined munitions, mainly artillery shells, which they determined are chemical munitions and hence declarable.

All of the newly declared materials are stored at the Ruwagha depot in southeastern Libya, together with quantities of sulfur mustard and precursor chemicals that were declared by the Qaddafi government when Libya joined the OPCW in early 2004. The Qaddafi government succeeded in destroying 54% of its declared sulfur mustard and about 40% of the precursor chemicals before operations had to be suspended in February 2011 when the destruction facility malfunctioned.

Libya must now submit a detailed plan and completion date for destroying all of the declared materials to the OPCW not later than 29 April 2012, the date of the final extended deadline.

Libya: Facts and Figures

As a State Party to the Chemical Weapons Convention, Libya is obligated to declare all chemical weapons and associated production facilities that it possesses to the OPCW. Upon joining the Convention in January 2004 Libya, declared the possession of the following materials and capabilities , which were verified by OPCW inspections:

  • 24.7 metric tonnes (MT) of sulfur mustard
  • 1,390 MT of precursor chemicals
  • 3,563 unloaded chemical weapons munitions (aerial bombs)
  • 3 former chemical weapons production facilities. 

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