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Libya's toxic chemicals stockpile transported abroad

August 31, 2016

Libya's last stockpile of toxic chemicals has been transported abroad. The move keeps militant hands off the dangerous hoard as the country continues to face severe security issues.

Image: Getty Images/AFP/P. Desmazes

The stockpile - hundreds of tons of industrial chemicals - was removed over the weekend with the help of several countries, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said in a statement on Wednesday.

The OPCW did not say where Libya's chemicals were taken, but a statement from the German Defense Ministry said the shipment would be taken via the northern German port of Bremen to a plant in Munster for destruction, a process expected to take nine months.

Denmark's foreign minister, Kristian Jensen, earlier announnced: "We have now removed the chemical remnants from Libya and have ensured that they will not fall into the wrong hands."

'End of the Libyan chemical weapons program'

The operation was assisted by Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Malta, Spain, United Kingdom and the United States, the OPCW said. A British naval vessel was to escort the cargo ship through the Mediterranean, the Danish Foreign Ministry said.

Copenhagen said 500 tons of chemical weapon remnants were collected on Saturday from the Libyan port of Misrata, and loaded onto a Danish cargo vessel that was heading for Germany, where the arsenal is to be destroyed. Danish commodore Torben Mikkelsen told news agency Ritzau that the handover lasted 12 hours.

Libya had planned to destroy the chemicals itself, but fighting with so-called Islamic State (IS) insurgents and political instability had raised fears that the stockpile would be acquired by insurgents.

jbh/kms (Reuters, dpa)