WASHINGTON (Feb. 18)
The United States has condemned the ongoing Libyan chemical weapons manufacturing program, in the wake of news reports that the North African country is building a second chemical weapons plant.
Libya’s chemical weapons program has long been a source of concern to the United States because of the country’s links to terrorist activity. It has also been of deep concern to Israel, particularly as the Libyan air force worked to enhance its long-range flight capability.
State Department spokesman Joe Snyder expressed concern Thursday that other countries were helping Libya with its program. He warned that any support for the program goes against a U.N. Security Council resolution banning any weapons-related exports to Libya.
The New York Times reported this week that Libya is now building a second chemical weapons plant that could be used to produce and store poison gas. Libya already has one chemical plant, located in Rabta, approximately 25 miles southwest of the Libyan capital of Tripoli.
Snyder said the United States is convinced the Rabta plant “remains capable of producing chemical agents.”
The Times report said that the new plant, camouflaged as a water project, is located underground in a hillside near Tarhunah, about 40 miles southeast of Tripoli. Work on the plant began late last year, and the plant was expected to be operational by late this year, the Times said.
Snyder congratulated Germany for acting to ensure that its firms “do not contribute to the proliferation of chemical weapons.”
He called on other nations “to follow the German example” in carefully checking exports of “dual-use chemicals and equipment that have applications in the field of chemical weapons.”