End of Gaddafi regime leaves US, Europe deeply concerned over future of Libya's massive chemical weapons arsenal; with steps already being taken to ensure WMDs don’t fall into wrong handsAnd just how much is "massive"?
As the world watches deposed Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi's forces take their last stand in Tripoli, western intelligence officials are trying to follow the trail of Libya's chemical weapons arsenal, and especially its mustard gas caches.
In an interview with CNN, United States Envoy to the UN Susan Rice said that the US was takign steps to prevent the weapons from falling into the wrong hands.
Most of Libya's chemical weapons are held at a facility located in Rabta, south of Tripoli. Western analysts believe that the country's WMD (weapons of mass destruction) arsenal alone contains some 10 tons of various chemical agents which can inflict grave damage. It is also believed that Gaddafi was in possession of Scud-B missiles, over 1,000 tons of uranium powder and mass quantities of conventional weapons. [emphasis added]And while we're at it and dreaming that Syria may be next on the list, here's a thought from Foreign Policy: As Syria descends into chaos, its stockpiles of chemical weaponry could turn into a proliferation nightmare:
Syria is one of a handful of states that the U.S. government believes possess large stocks of chemical agents in militarized form -- that is, ready for use in artillery shells and bombs. The arsenal is thought to be massive, involving thousands of munitions and many tons of chemical agents, which range, according to CIA annual reports to Congress, from the blister gases of World War I -- such as mustard gas -- to advanced nerve agents such as sarin and possibly persistent nerve agents, such as VX gas.While the Syrian regime has been cautious about its deployment till now, with the current situation in Syria--that raises a question:
And let's imagine that Assad is eventually removed: What leaders would gain control of these weapons after he departed? Saudi-backed Sunni groups? Iranian-backed Shiite organizations? Whoever they might be, it is unclear that the newcomers would follow the Assads' cautious-use doctrine and refusal to share chemical weapons with nonstate groups, or that the new leaders would be able to maintain strict security measures at the chemical sites.With all of the concern over the fate of stores of nuclear weapons upon the fall of the Soviet Union--that seems to pale in comparison with the thought of chemical weapons falling into the hands of Muslim extremists who would appear to be even more likely to put such weapons to use.
And leading from behind does not make one any safer.
Technorati Tag: Libya and Syria and WMD.