Removal of Chemical Weapons Precursors from Libya

Press Statement
John Kirby
Assistant Secretary and Department Spokesperson, Bureau of Public Affairs
Washington, DC
September 1, 2016

Yesterday, the Director-General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) announced a major milestone in the elimination of Libya’s Qadhafi-era chemical weapons-related materials. On August 27, an international maritime operation coordinated by the OPCW and led by Denmark safely removed Libya’s remaining chemical weapons precursors as authorized by United Nations Security Council Resolution 2298 and OPCW Executive Council decisions. These chemicals, which are common toxic industrial chemicals several stages from becoming chemical weapons agents, are now secure and will soon be destroyed in an environmentally safe and verifiable manner.

As noted by the White House, a team of international partners has worked to answer the Libyan Government of National Accord’s request for assistance to remove these chemicals for destruction outside of Libya in order to eliminate the risk that they could fall into the hands of non-state actors. This very capable team was led by the OPCW, and included Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Libya, Malta, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

We echo the gratitude expressed by the OPCW for the significant contributions of our generous partners in this endeavor, and we share the sentiment of the Director-General that this “international effort has achieved a major milestone in guaranteeing that these chemicals will not fall into the wrong hands.”