Remnants of Libya’s chemical weapons programme to be destroyed in Germany

Germany is taking part in an international mission to destroy the last stockpiles of chemicals from Libya’s chemical weapons programme. On Thursday (8 September), 500 tonnes of chemical remnants arrived in the GEKA destruction facility in Munster, where they will be disposed of in an environmentally safe manner in the coming months.

500 tonnes of dual-use chemicals destroyed

The chemicals involved are 500 tonnes of what are known as dual-use chemicals, that is, materials that can also be used for military purposes as precursors for chemical weapons. The chemicals date back to the Gaddafi era and must be disposed of in accordance with the Chemical Weapons Convention, to which Libya acceded in 2004.

Because of the tense security situation in the country and the lack of technical facilities, Libya asked the international community for assistance in destroying the chemicals. In response, both the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the United Nations Security Council decided to grant Libya the required assistance.

German company GEKA will destroy the chemicals

A large number of countries, including Germany, were involved in carrying out this mission. The German state-owned company GEKA, which is responsible for disposing of chemical warfare agents and has long-standing expertise in this field, will destroy the toxic chemicals at its facility in Munster in Lower Saxony in the coming months.

GEKA staff during a demonstration at a media event

GEKA staff during a demonstration at a media event
© dpa/picture-alliance

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GEKA staff during a demonstration at a media event

GEKA staff during a demonstration at a media event

GEKA staff during a demonstration at a media event

The chemicals were transported from Libya to Bremen by ship. From Bremen, they were transported to Munster. The transport posed no risk to the public, as substances of this kind are also used by the civilian chemicals industry and transported every day on German roads.

Germany has already helped Libya to destroy stockpiles of chemical weapons – the disarmament of weapons of mass destruction is a key aim of Germany’s arms control and non-proliferation policy.

Steinmeier: helping to improve security in Libya, Germany and Europe

Foreign Minister Steinmeier welcomed the efforts to destroy the stockpiles:

 “Germany is taking concrete steps with the international community and a large number of partners to help the Libyan Government of National Accord to render the last stockpiles of Libya’s chemical weapons programme harmless and to dispose of them in an environmentally safe manner.

We need to prevent toxic chemicals from falling into the wrong hands. In doing so, our aim is to improve security in Germany, Europe and, of course, Libya.” 

Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen said this was “a small, but very tangible contribution by Germany as regards improving the security situation in a country that is struggling to achieve order and stability.”

The international community welcomed Germany’s contribution. Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü, Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), said: “Germany has once again demonstrated its commitment to the OPCW’s goal of eliminating chemical weapons worldwide”

Last updated 09.09.2016

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