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Gaddafi had secret cache of chemical weapons

The former Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi had an undeclared stockpile of chemical weapons, inspectors announced yesterday, calling into question the judgment of former British prime minister Tony Blair, who accepted the former dictator's promise to destroy them.

Inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) have been in Libya this week, and discovered that in addition to the tonnes of mustard gas components that Gaddafi's regime admitted to holding, it also had a secret stockpile of chemical shells which should have been declared.

Gaddafi promised to destroy all such weapons when Mr Blair visited the country in 2004. In November last year, Mr Blair defended his approach.

"He was developing a nuclear and chemical programme," he said. "He gave it all up."

The Libyan dictator began the process of destroying his arsenal of chemical weapons after 2004, but it was suspended in February last year at the start of the civil war, that ended with the overthrow and death of Gaddafi.

Libya was a signatory to an international treaty under which all stockpiles of chemical weapons were to have been destroyed by an April 29, 2012 deadline.

According to the OPCW, the Gaddafi regime had only destroyed about 54pc of its declared sulphur mustard and about 40pc of the precursor chemical components.

The new government has until April 29 to submit a detailed plan for the destruction of the remaining weapons. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent