ROME (Sep. 3)
With assistance from Germany, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi is trying to build a factory for the production of ground-to-ground missiles capable of striking Israel, according to an article published Monday in the Milan daily Corriere della Sera.
The missiles would have a range of 1,000 kilometers, or 620 miles. Missiles fired from Libya’s eastern border would be capable of striking anywhere in Israel.
The revelations come at a time of ongoing admissions at a trial in Mannheim, Germany, that a German chemicals company knowingly helped Libya build a poison gas plant. Other German firms have been accused of helping Libya manufacture non-conventional weapons.
“Suspicions and rumors about the secret plans of the unpredictable Libyan leader were already circulating in the past few months, but only now have new elements come to light,” wrote Guido Olimpio, in an article published without a dateline.
He wrote that at the end of July, customs officers in Hamburg seized a Libyan ship whose cargo was later determined by experts to consist of machinery for ground-to-ground missiles. The machinery came from the Fritz Werner factory in Rheingau.
“Later investigations showed that this firm had substantial business dealings with Libya, naturally carried out behind a smokescreen of tricks and false declarations,” he wrote.
Olimpio wrote that Werner signed a contract with Libya at the end of 1990 for “a factory for the construction of pipes for sewers and aqueducts.”
According to the Corriere article, “sources in the Libyan opposition” have said the factory, which is located near Tripoli, is a workshop for the production of Al Fatah missiles.
The article quoted German technical staff sent to work in Libya as saying this factory is surrounded by huge security measures, “certainly not very usual for a simple pipe factory.”
One technician was quoted as saying the parts used in the factory are high-technology instruments.
Sources at Fritz Werner told Corriere that the firm has long experience in high-tech and missile construction. Other sources, it said, reported that the company furnished parts to increase the range of Iraqi Scud-B missiles.
“What is alarming is that Fritz Werner is not the only (German) company to operate in Libya, despite Bonn’s commitment to make its businesses respect the treaty on the sale of missile technology,” the Corriere article said.
Other firms are eager for Libyan contracts, it said.