Libyan Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdelaziz says the country’s chemical arsenal has been completely destroyed.
Abdelaziz made the announcement on Tuesday at a ceremony to mark chemical arsenal eradication attended by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) chief Ahmet Uzumcu.
“Libya has become totally free of usable chemical weapons that might present a potential threat to the security of local communities, the environment and neighboring areas,” the Libyan minister said.
Abdelaziz also said that the process of destroying chemical weapons, including bombs and artillery shells filled with mustard gas, was completed on January 26.
The destruction of weapons started 10 years ago under the country’s slain dictator Muammar Gaddafi when Tripoli signed the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).
By the start of civil war in Libya in 2011, Gaddafi’s government had destroyed 55 percent of its declared sulfur mustard and 40 percent of the precursor chemicals.
The process resumed in 2013 at a facility in remote Ruwagha, which is located some 600km south of Tripoli.
“This achievement would not have been possible in such a short time, without concerted efforts within an international partnership, or without the logistical support and the technical assistance from Canada, Germany and the USA, which provided the opportunity to use very advanced, safe and reliable technology,” Abdelaziz added.
The OPCW chief hailed the international support for the operation, saying it provided a “good example of international cooperation now emulated in Syria on a larger scale.”
Uzumcu also said that Tripoli has destroyed “Category 1 chemical weapons” and that the elimination of Category 2 chemicals will be completed by December 2016.