Analysis: Libyan Weapons Control Is Major Security Concern for US

Wednesday, 24 Aug 2011 04:04 PM

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With Moammar Gadhafi’s fortified Bab al-Aziziya Tripoli compound overrun by Libyan rebels and the dictator’s family in hiding, concern now turns to various weapons stockpiled over the years. Those weapons include shoulder-fired rockets, chemical weapons, and even low enriched uranium, according to the latest analysis from LIGNET.com, a new Washington-based global intelligence and forecasting site.

Terrorists can use the rockets, SA-7 surface-to-air missiles known as MANPADs, to attack civilian airliners, and rebels have been seen carrying them. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., have raised concerns about the security of Libya’s chemical weapons stockpile.

“Accounting for and getting control of MANPADs is a major security concern for the United States and its allies,” according to the analysis. “The fact that rebels appear to already have seized an unknown number of MANPADs may indicate that it is too late to regain control of all of these weapons. This situation could prove especially dangerous if rebel groups known to be radical Islamists and/or have ties to terrorist groups like al-Qaida have obtained MANPADs.”

The rebel leadership’s National Transitional Council must address the remnants of Libya’s chemical and nuclear programs, the LIGNET.com analysis says.

“Libya still has about 11.5 metric tons of mustard gas chemical weapons agent. Although these chemicals pose a threat, using them would be difficult and dangerous because Libya destroyed the munitions to deliver these weapons. Libyan CW agents are in poor condition and hazardous to handle. Make-shift delivery methods are possible but would be inefficient and probably would result in a high fatality rates of anyone working with or attempting to deliver the CW agents.”

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