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12/23/03 - LIBYA WEAPONS PLEDGE - 2003-12-24

Libyan officials have begun meetings with representatives of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The meetings come in the wake of an announcement that Libyan dictator, Colonel Momammar Gadhafi, has pledged to disclose and dismantle all weapons of mass destruction programs. President George W. Bush says Colonel Gadhafi “has agreed immediately and unconditionally to allow inspectors from international organizations to enter Libya”:

“These inspectors will render an accounting of all nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons programs and will help oversee their elimination. Colonel Gadhafi’s commitment, once it is fulfilled, will make our country more safe and the world more peaceful.”

The U.S. and its allies have long been concerned about Libya’s programs to obtain and develop weapons of mass destruction. Opposing the spread of such weapons, says President Bush, “is one of the highest priorities of the war against terror”:

“The attacks of September the 11th, 2001, brought tragedy to the United States and revealed a future threat of even greater magnitude. Terrorists who killed thousands of innocent people would, if they ever gained weapons of mass destruction, kill hundreds of thousands -- without hesitation and without mercy. And this danger is dramatically increased when regimes build or acquire weapons of mass destruction and maintain ties to terrorist groups.”

Libya has long been a state sponsor of terrorism. Fifteen years ago this month, Libyan intelligence agents planted a bomb on an American airliner, Pan Am 103. The explosion over Lockerbie, Scotland, killed two-hundred seventy people. Earlier this year, Libya finally responded to United Nations Security Council Lockerbie demands, including paying money to families of victims, renouncing all terrorist acts, and cooperating in the international war against terrorism.

Along with eliminating all its weapons of mass destruction, Libya needs to meet these commitments. If it does, says President Bush, “Libya can regain a secure and respected place among the nations, and over time, achieve far better relations with the United States.”