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Securing Libyan Stockpiles

Libyan rebel fighters fire an anti-aircraft weapon at an airforce jet loyal to Qadhafi. (file)

The U.S. stands ready to assist in securing or safely eliminating materials and arms that pose proliferation risks.

The United States has been monitoring Libya's remaining stockpiles of uranium, chemical agents, and certain conventional weapons, concerned that the on-going civil conflict could increase the proliferation risk. The United States has raised this issue with Libya's Transitional National Council, or TNC, which has made clear that it recognizes the importance of securing all proliferation-sensitive materials and weapons, and ensuring the verified destruction of the chemical weapon stocks by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

Libya is a state-party to nonproliferation agreements, including the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, the Chemical Weapons Convention, and the Biological Weapons Convention. The United States welcomes the TNC's assurances that Libya will meet all of its international commitments. The United States stands ready to assist in securing or safely eliminating materials and arms that pose proliferation risks.

All sensitive elements of Libya's nuclear program were removed in early 2004. The country's remaining inventory of highly enriched uranium was completely removed as of December 2008. Nevertheless, the United States continues to closely monitor the facility.

The United States also continues to monitor Libya's stockpile of uranium yellowcake. This material would need to go through an extensive industrial process, before it could be used in building nuclear weapons. Such processes do not exist in Libya.

All of Libya's remaining chemical agents are secured in bunkers and are stored in bulk that is not in weaponized form. As soon as conditions permit, we are prepared to work with the OPCW to provide assistance to Libya to fulfill its Chemical Weapons obligations, including eliminating the remaining chemical agents.

Since the beginning of the crisis, the United States has been engaged in helping to prevent the proliferation of Libya's conventional weapons. The main concern is Libya's inventory of shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles. The United States is working with NATO to provide all known locations of such weapons so that the TNC can secure and eventually dispose of these weapons. The United States is providing three million dollars to recruit and train local explosive ordnance disposal teams. To date, teams have cleared over 450,000 square meters of land and destroyed over 5.8 tons of munitions.

“The United States”, said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, "will look to [the TNC] to ensure that Libya fulfills its treaty responsibilities, that it ensures that its weapons stockpiles do not threaten its neighbors or fall into the wrong hands, and that it takes a firm stand against violent extremism."