W. Germany Confesses, Now Says It Knew of Gas Plant in 1980

West Germany acknowledged Wednesday that it knew as early as April 1980 of Libyan efforts to produce chemical weapons at a plant in Rabta, south of Tripoli, and that German companies were helping.

The government had previously said it first learned of West German business involvement with Rabta in 1988, and insisted it had no evidence of attempts to make poison gas there.

The government’s admission was contained in a 100-page letter to the Bundestag, written by Chancellery Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, a top aide to Chancellor Helmut Kohl.

The letter said information about the Rabta plant was brushed aside, despite American warnings and repeated intelligence from West Germany’s secret service.

According to observers here, Schaeuble’s disclosures are calculated, at least in part, to embarrass the opposition Social Democratic Party that governed West Germany during the 1970s and early 1980s.

The report said the SPD government took no action to warn Libya or deter West German companies from helping the Libyans build the Rabta plant.

The SPD has criticized the CDU-led regime with respect to the Libya affair, up to a point.

It stopped short of asking one of the Bundestag committees to launch an investigation that could backfire on itself, observers said,

Die Welt said Wednesday that Washington warned Bonn in advance in November that it intended to present Kohl with documents showing West German involvement in Libya.

NEXT STORY