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24 Aug, 2011 15:52

Chemical arsenal - new Gaddafi shell game

The Libyan government's weapons stockpiles, from tonnes of mustard gas to raw nuclear materials, have drawn the focus of US intelligence concerns. They are unsure that the current holder, whoever it is, will abide by international norms.

The Pentagon has pledged to prevent Gaddafi's armory stockpiles from falling into the wrong hands. US officials assure the US, UN and NATO are monitoring sites known to contain stockpiles of Colonel Gaddafi's chemical weapons, including up to 10 tonnes of mustard gas. "The stockpiles at this point appear to be well-guarded," an unnamed US official told Reuters. "It's worth keeping in mind that Gaddafi did in fact destroy many of his most dangerous weapons, and that much of what remains is outdated or difficult to make operational."But fears remain that Gaddafi might use the stockpiles to make a last stand or terrorists could get hold of them.  Meanwhile, a former senior UN inspector told Reuters that a research center near Tripoli has enough stock of low-enriched uranium fuel to make a "dirty bomb". Libya’s uranium enrichment program was brought to an end in 2003, when Muammar Gaddafi agreed to abandon efforts to acquire nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Now analysts wonder who is in control of the stocks in the Tajura Research Center and whether they will abide by Gaddafi’s agreements.The US and Europe are also concerned about keeping secure Libya's stockpiles of conventional weapons: surface-to-air missiles, anti-tank rockets, armored vehicles, rocket-propelled grenades and explosives. The stocks are estimated to hold some 30,000 shoulder-fired rockets that can threaten aircraft, says the AP.But James Corbett, a member of the Center for Research on Globalization, doubts the weapons would be safer in NATO’s hands."Perhaps, it presupposes that the stockpiles are unsafe in the hands of the rebels’ forces and would be safer in the hands of NATO forces, whereas the people who have been so far involved in besieging and killing civilians in Tripoli have been from the NATO side," Corbett told RT. "Perhaps, getting rid of these weapons would be the ultimate goal in terms of peace and stability."On the other hand, Muammar Gaddafi has been using every chance to accumulate as much weaponry as possible points out Scott Bates, vice president at the Centre for National Policy."Gaddafi has stockpiled 10-20 thousand surface-to-air missiles. That country was already awash in weaponry," he told RT. “This underscores the real problem in Libya right now, which is no one is in charge and security is tenuous.”