Gadhafi's Chemical Stash Wiped Out in Secret

3-month international effort used a 'giant, high-tech oven'
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 3, 2014 6:43 AM CST
Updated Feb 3, 2014 7:56 AM CST
Gadhafi's Chemical Stash Has Been Wiped Out
In this Sept. 23, 2009 photo, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi shows a torn copy of the UN Charter during his address to the 64th session of the United Nations General Assembly.   (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

The destruction of Syria's chemical weapons continues to hit delays—but a secret effort to rid Libya of chemical weapons has been a success, the New York Times reports. The US and Libya have been destroying what was left of Moammar Gadhafi's stockpile, including hundreds of weapons containing a mustard agent. The three-month project, which wiped out two tons of arms using what the Times calls a "giant, high-tech oven," ended last week. "It’s a big breakthrough," says an expert, noting that the process—a basis for the much larger effort in Syria—"was very difficult because of weather, geography, and because it's a dangerous area with warring tribes, increasing the risks of theft and diversion."

In 2004, Gadhafi had provided some 24.7 metric tons of chemical weapons to the West for destruction, but only half were gone by the time civil war began in 2011. The post-Gadhafi Libyan government sought to rid itself of the remainder, as well as almost two tons of additional material it had found—agents already installed in bombs and artillery, the Times notes. The destruction effort, which used funds from the Pentagon as well as Canada, saw the weapons vaporized in an oven created by Swedish firm Dynasafe. Meanwhile, the BBC is airing old Gadhafi secrets in a special tonight; among them, a former ally who says the strongman ordered a plane shot down near Tripoli in 1992, killing 157 passengers in a demonstration against sanctions. (More Libya stories.)

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