Danish Team Removes 500 Tons of Chemical Weapons From Libya

The chemicals were picked up in Misrata on August 27From the AP:  A Danish-led international operation to rid Libya of its chemical weapons has removed 500 tons of chemicals from the North African country, Denmark said Wednesday.

The government said the chemicals were picked up Saturday at the Libyan port of Misrata and are now on their way out of the Mediterranean Sea toward Germany.

From the White House:  The dual-use industrial chemicals removed from Libya in recent days are the remains of the chemical weapons stockpile accumulated by Muammar Qaddafi’s regime.

The removal was completed at the request of the Libyan Government of National Accord, both to make responsible progress toward fulfilling Libya’s obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention and to ensure that the chemicals did not fall into the hands of ISIL or other terrorists. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the international community responded immediately to Libya’s request for assistance, recognizing the need to ensure these hazardous chemicals are destroyed in an environmentally safe, secure, and verifiable manner, and do not threaten the well-being of Libya’s population.

We thank the OPCW and the members of the international community for uniting to take swift action to help eliminate the vestiges of Libya’s chemical weapons stockpile. We appreciate the important role of Denmark, which has provided maritime assets to safely remove the chemicals from Libya, as well as the significant support provided by Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Finland. The United States helped organize and support this group – the same coalition that enabled the removal of Syria’s declared chemical weapons in 2013 and 2014.

From the Foreign Ministry of Denmark:  Foreign Minister Kristian Jensen says: “We have now removed the chemical remnants from Libya and have ensured that they will not fall into the wrong hands. This is an important contribution from Denmark to a safer world free of chemical weapons and a contribution that aims to support a more stable Libya. I am proud that the international community through the United Nations and OPCW has asked for Danish assistance, and very pleased that Danish ships and personnel once more has delivered on an important security policy agenda.”

Defence Minister Peter Christensen says: “The Danish Defence has with great distinction – quickly and safely – solved the problem of removing chemicals out of Libya, and these substances can now be destroyed. The Danish Defence has substantial experience with tasks like this, and has once again shown that it is ready when needed to provide a contribution to peace and stability in the world. High praise for our soldiers and deployed personnel from the Danish Emergency Management Agency as well as the Customs and Tax Administration.”

Besides Denmark, the United Kingdom, Italy and Finland assisted with the international maritime operation. The United Kingdom has provided a military escort ship available during the escort through the Mediterranean, Finland has contributed with staff officers to the Danish ship contribution, while Italy has provided maritime backup and logistical support.

Image: The chemicals were picked up in Misrata on August 27 (photo: Foreign Ministry of Denmark)