Libya agrees to more concessions to lift sanctions

Kadafi vows to convert Scuds, end arms trade

April 11, 2004|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

In keeping with its pledge to destroy its unconventional weapons, Libya has told U.S. officials that it will convert hundreds of its Scud-B missiles into shorter-range, less powerful weapons for purely defensive purposes and end all military trade with North Korea, U.S. officials said last week.

The officials said in interviews that Libya had also agreed to make a public declaration of its decision soon.

The Bush administration has told Libyan officials that the United States will not lift trade sanctions against Libya unless it ends support for terrorism and takes action to dismantle existing weapons that threaten its neighbors.

In discussions in London and Tripoli, the Libyan capital, U.S. and British officials asked Libya to declare that it was renouncing trade with North Korea. The officials also asked Libya to neutralize its stockpile of medium-range Scud-B missiles by destroying them or by converting them to shorter-range, less destructive weapons intended for defensive use.

U.S. officials said Libya's latest decision was yet another indication that Col. Muammar el Kadafi, the Libyan leader, was sincere in his stated desire to carry out his Dec. 19 pledge to abandon the country's unconventional weapons and programs to acquire them.

"We're very encouraged by Libya's actions," one senior official said.

He characterized the discussions among Libya, Britain and the United States over how best to carry out its disarmament pledge as "excellent."

Libya has already given up the longer-range Scud-C missiles that it secretly purchased from North Korea, along with equipment and materials related to nuclear and chemical weapons.

Last month, Libya sent the five Scud-C missiles, with a range of 800 kilometers, or about 500 miles, to the United States for safekeeping.

But Libya had not decided on the fate of its shorter-range Russian-made Scud-Bs, which have a range of 300 kilometers, or about 185 miles, and warheads with a payload of 1,000 kilograms, or about 2,200 pounds, of explosives.

In testimony in February before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Paula A. DeSutter, an assistant secretary of state, testified that Libya had declared in principle that it would restrict itself to missiles with a range that complies with the standard of the Missile Technology Control Regime, an international standard for categorizing longer-range missiles.

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