Archive for Saturday, December 20, 2003

Libya to dismantle weapons program

December 20, 2003


— Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, after secret negotiations with the United States and Britain, agreed to halt his nation's drive to develop nuclear and chemical weapons and the long-range missiles to deliver them, President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair said Friday. Bush said pointedly, "I hope other leaders will find an example" in the action.

Libya's most significant acknowledgment was that it had a program intended to enrich uranium for use in nuclear weapons, a senior Bush administration official said.

Blair, speaking from Durham, Britain, and Bush, addressing reporters at the White House, described a process of nine months of secret talks and on-site inspections, initiated by the long reviled Libyan leader shortly after he agreed to a settlement in the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am jet over Lockerbie, Scotland.

In the decision announced Friday, Libya agreed to disclose its weapons of mass destruction and related programs and to open the country to international weapons inspectors to oversee their elimination.

"Colonel Gadhafi's commitment, once it is fulfilled, will make our country more safe and the world more peaceful," Bush said.

Recalling the war in Iraq, Bush said other nations should recognize that weapons of mass destruction "do not bring influence or prestige. They bring isolation and otherwise unwelcome consequences."

Bush said the United States and Britain would watch closely to make sure Gadhafi keeps his word. And he said Libya's promises on weapons weren't enough; it must "fully engage in the war against terror" as well.

If Libya "takes these essential steps and demonstrates its seriousness," Bush held out the promise of helping Libya build "a more free and prosperous country."

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