To Keep Libya Missiles Safe, US Has a Plan: Buy Them

In an effort to prevent them from being used against passenger planes
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 23, 2011 10:08 AM CST
To Keep Libya Missiles Safe, US Has a Plan: Buy Them
US assistant secretary of state Andrew Shapiro and his delegation gather around MANPAD missiles (Man-Portable Air Defence Systems) in the village of Sidi Bin Nur, Libya, December 11, 2011.   (Getty Images)

The US is currently trying to clean up an uncomfortable side-effect of Libya’s civil war: The country is now littered with thousands of shoulder-mounted anti-aircraft missiles pilfered from Moammar Gadhafi’s weapon caches. Dubbed "Manpads" (short for "Man-Portable Air Defense Systems"), these lightweight missiles pose little threat to military jets, but could easily take down a passenger plane, so the US is working with Libyan authorities on a plan to buy them up, sources tell the New York Times.

“We think we have come to the point where we need some sort of special program,” one official said, and Assistant Secretary of State Andrew Shapiro broached the issue with Libya’s defense minister last month. The US has budgeted $40 million to secure Libya’s weapons, and most is expected to go to Manpads, but it’s unclear how much it would pay for each missile; it won’t handle the sales directly, instead giving the money to Libya’s government, which would either secure or destroy them after purchase. (Read more Manpad stories.)

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