Libya WMD Stats


Libya has shown interest in and taken steps to acquire weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their delivery systems. Indeed, it is one of the few states to have employed chemical weapons in a conflict (Chad, 1987). Libya's motivation to acquire WMD, and ballistic missiles in particular, appears in part to be a response to Israel's clandestine nuclear program and a desire to become a more active player in Middle Eastern and African politics. On 19 December 2003, Libyan leader Col. Muammar Qadhafi publicly confirmed his commitment to disclose and dismantle WMD programs in his country following a nine-month period of negotiations with U.S. and U.K. authorities.


  • Biological: A description of the nation's situation with regards to the possession and manufacture of biological weapons of mass destruction
  • Chemical: A description of the nation's situation with regards to the possession and manufacture of chemical weapons of mass destruction
  • Missile: A description of the nation's situation with regards to the possession and manufacture of missile weapons of mass destruction
  • Nuclear: A description of the nation's situation with regards to the possession and manufacture of nuclear weapons
Biological In 2003, Libya admitted its previous intentions to acquire equipment needed to produce biological weapons (BW). In October and December 2003, Libyan officials took US and UK experts to a number of medical and agricultural research centers that had the potential to be used in BW research. The country acceded to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention on 19 January 1982. There are allegations that the alleged chemical weapon (CW) plants at Rabta and Tarhunah could contain BW research facilities as well. Prior to Libya's 19 December 2003 announcement to abandon its WMD programs, US intelligence agencies alleged that Qadhafi had attempted to recruit South African scientists to assist in the acquisition of BW, and that Libya had started to develop pathogens and toxins for weapons use. 2003
Chemical There is a significant amount of open-source literature concerning Libya's acquisition and use of chemical weapons (CW); it is well documented that Libya employed Iranian-supplied mustard gas bombs against Chad, its southern neighbor, in 1987. In documentation provided to US and UK authorities in 2003, Libya revealed a "significant quantity" of mustard agent produced more than 10 years ago at a facility near Rabta, located in the Sahara Desert about 120km southwest of Tripoli, along with chemical munitions and equipment needed to establish a second CW production facility. In December 2003, Libya pledged to eliminate all chemical weapons stocks and munitions and accede to the Chemical Weapons Convention "without delay." 2003
Missile Libya first acquired Scud-B missiles in the early 1970s from the Soviet Union. In the early 1980s, Libya accelerated its efforts to obtain a longer-range ballistic missile with the al-Fatah, reportedly with a range of 950km. Germany and China allegedly provided technical and material assistance to the al-Fatah program. The al-Fatah missile system has not been completed and remains untested. In November 2000, as part of a $600 million agreement, Libya allegedly acquired the first shipment of a total of 50 North Korean Nodong ballistic missiles, including launch capabilities. North Korea also allegedly provided more than 10 scientists to work on the Libyan missile program. This complemented other missile component shipments that reportedly began in 1999. Also, after the lifting of the 1999 sanctions, reports of increased technical and structural assistance from countries like Iran, North Korea, China, India, and Russia have raised concerns over Libya's growing ability to manufacture ballistic missiles. In 2003, US experts were given access to Libya's missile arsenal and to a number of missile research facilities. In December 2003, Libya pledged to eliminate ballistic missiles capable of traveling more than 300km with payloads of 500kg. Libya is not a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). In April 2004, Libya told American officials that it plans to convert hundreds of its Scud-B missiles into short-range defensive weapons and discontinue all military trade with North Korea. In October, the US State Department announced that it had verified the complete dismantling of Libya's WMD programs, including MTCR-class missiles. 2004
Nuclear In its 19 December 2003 announcement that it was eliminating all materials, equipment and programs proscribed by the international community, Libya took the unusual step of first publicly revealing its nuclear weapons program, then renouncing it. Libya then invited the IAEA to verify the elimination of nuclear weapon related activities in-country. According to International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Mohamed ElBaradei, who led a December 2003 inspection team to Libya, Libya's nuclear weapons program is in the very initial stages, about three to seven years away from producing a nuclear weapon. Libya admitted having secretly imported raw uranium and the necessary equipment to convert it for enrichment into weapons-grade material but added that the enrichment plan had been dismantled and that no highly enriched uranium had been produced over the past decade. IAEA inspectors did not find either, though they did find imported equipment and technology at a number of previously secret nuclear facilities in and around Tripoli. It has been revealed that Abdul Qadeer Khan of Pakistan is responsible for providing Libya with its nuclear warhead plans, raw uranium and enrichment centrifuges through his black market network. In his 19 December 2003 announcement, Qadhafi pledged to adhere to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which Libya ratified in 1975, and to sign the Additional Protocol, which it did on 10 March 2004. IAEA chief El Baradei indicated that signing the Protocol would ensure IAEA oversight over Libya’s nuclear transition from weapons creation to peaceful purposes. Previously, Libya signed Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in November 2001 and ratified it in January 2004. In 1996, it had signed the Treaty of Pelindaba, which established a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Africa. Besides previously secret nuclear sites disclosed in late 2003, Libya possesses a Soviet-supplied 10MW research reactor in Tajura. With the lifting of UN sanctions in 1998, Russia renewed its nuclear cooperation with Libya, providing funding for renovations to the Tajura nuclear complex. As of October 2004, the IAEA continues to investigate the clandestine network through which Libya supplied its nuclear weapons program. North Korea and several South African, German, and Swiss nationals have been implicated in providing restricted training and technologies to Libya. 2004


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