Libya’s Remaining Chemical Weapon Precursors Arrive Safely and Securely at German Facility for Destruction

8 September 2016
Samples are collected from a container with Libyan precursor chemicals at a specialised destruction facility operated by GEKA in Munster, Germany. Photo: GEKATanks containing Libyan chemicals are unloaded at the port of Bremen, Germany. Photo: Defence Command Denmark

Samples are collected from a container with Libyan precursor chemicals at a specialised destruction facility operated by GEKA in Munster, Germany. Photo: GEKA Tanks containing Libyan chemicals are unloaded at the port of Bremen, Germany. Photo: Defence Command Denmark

The Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü announced the successful completion of the multi-country maritime transportation operation led by Denmark to deliver Libya’s remaining chemical weapon precursors to Germany and marked the beginning of the operation to destroy these chemicals under OPCW verification.

Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü declared: “Another crucial step has been taken toward eliminating Libya’s remaining chemical weapon precursors. The chemicals arrived safely and securely at the specialised destruction facility in Munster. I thank Germany for its leadership and contributions, which are indispensable for the successful conclusion of this operation”.

Destruction and verification activities represent the last phase of the international operation mounted in response to Libya’s request for assistance in completing its obligation to destroy the remaining elements of its former chemical weapons programme. The chemical materials will be destroyed at a highly-capable specialised destruction facility operated by GEKA in Munster, Germany. OPCW verification activities have already started and will continue until all of the materials are destroyed. The OPCW has been facilitating and coordinating the efforts of contributing countries to remove, transport and verifiably destroy the remnants of Libya's chemical weapons programme in the safest, most secure and timely manner. The request was approved by the OPCW Executive Council and endorsed by the United Nations Security Council in July 2016.

These chemical weapon precursors have not been weaponised and now they never will be by anyone. This is due to the generous and rapid response of many countries including Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Malta, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States working in concert.

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Background:

On 3 February 2016, Libya asked the OPCW and the international community for assistance to destroy its remaining category 2 chemical weapons, and on 16 July 2016 the Libyan Government of National Accord asked for support and assistance in moving and eliminating these chemical weapon precursors as soon as possible. This request was precipitated by concern about the current security situation which precluded destruction in Libya and the risk of these chemicals falling into the hands of non-state actors.

On 20 July 2016, the OPCW Executive Council approved the Libyan request for assistance, requested that the Director-General help Libya with developing its plan to destroy the chemicals and on 22 July 2016, UNSCR 2298 endorsed the Executive Council’s decision to provide assistance to acquire and transport these chemicals for the purpose of destruction outside Libya.

The international community responded immediately to ensure the chemicals are destroyed in an environmentally safe, secure, timely and verifiable manner. Libya was responsible for and successfully ensured the safe and secure transportation and storage of the chemicals for pick-up in the Libyan port of Misrata. Contributions from other countries include: 

 

  • Denmark led a multi-country maritime transportation operation including support from Finland, France, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom to move the chemicals from the Libyan port of Misrata to the port of Bremen, Germany;
  • Germany has provided a specialized destruction facility where the chemicals will be verifiably destroyed and financial support;
  • Canada has provided essential equipment and materials needed for the removal of the chemicals from Libya as well as financial support;
  • Italy and Malta assisted with the transport of chemical samples for analysis needed to facilitate the removal of the chemicals; Italy provided additional maritime assets for the maritime transportation operation;
  • The United Kingdom conducted sampling and analysis of the chemicals and supplied maritime assets for the maritime transportation operation as well as financial support;
  • Finland provided CBRN expert personnel and financial support;
  • France facilitated customs clearance at the port of Marseille as well as over flight clearances along with Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom;
  • Spain contributed two patrol boats of the Spanish Army (Armada Española) to escort the Danish vessel through Spain’s territorial waters;
  • The United States has contributed significant and essential financial backing; and
  • The EU has indicated a desire to provide funding for environmental clean-up of the storage site in Libya where the chemicals were located.

 

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