Washington, DC, United States (4E) – Libya has completed destroying two tons of chemical weapons loaded into hundreds of munitions, the Department of Defense (DOD) and Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said on Monday.
The chemical weapons were undeclared by the Gaddafi regime but discovered by Libya’s new government when it resumed in April the disposal of the country’s toxic weapons that was interrupted during the civil war in 2011. Moammar Gaddafi, the former Libyan leader, started the destruction of some 26 tons of declared chemical weapons in 2010 in compliance with its accession to the Chemical Weapons Convention in 2004.
Libyans trained in Europe to destroy chemical weapons started disposing the artillery shells, sleeves for rocket launching and several 500-pound bombs containing sulfur mustard in a desert 400 miles southeast of Tripoli in November and completed the process on Jan. 26. The OPCW, which supervised the disposal, confirmed the destruction of the chemical weapons at the remote Ruwagha Chemical Weapon Destruction Facility in a statement.
The U.S. and other countries and organizations helped in the destruction of the weapons. The U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency under the DOD tapped a California construction firm to oversee the rebuilding and safeguarding of the disposal site that was ransacked during the civil war. Funding was provided by the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program to the tune of $45 million. The same program helped rid the former Soviet Union of thousands of nuclear weapons since the end of the Cold War.
Construction of living facilities at the desert disposal site was funded by a $6 million donation from Canada. A Swedish company provided the static-detonation chamber used in vaporizing the chemicals and destroying the munitions.
DOD spokeswoman Jennifer Elzea lauded the Libyan government for revealing and destroying the toxic weapons.