|You are here: HOME > Activities > Press Release|
Activities and Events
Recent and upcoming nonproliferation activities, events, and announcements involving the CNS center, staff, and programs.
Updated: Aug 26, 2011
CNS Experts Comment on Recent Libya Developments
Monterey, CA; Washington, DC; Cairo, Egypt — With Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi still at large, and Libya's rebel forces still trading fire with Qaddafi loyalists in Tripoli and other regions, Libya's future is uncertain. Who will rule the country? How will the transition occur? And what will be the relation of the new regime with its neighbors and with the West? These are all open questions that are not expected to be answered any time soon.
Yet, it is clear the situation could have been much worse had Qaddafi not given up much of his weapons of mass destruction programs and related capabilities. Since 2003, Libya turned over to the West the materials and tools needed to make the bomb — components for a facility to make weapon-grade highly-enriched uranium (HEU), as well as 13 kilograms of HEU fuel — and 5 Scud-C ballistic missiles with a range of 800 kilometers. It also destroyed over 3,563 unfilled chemical aerial bombs, and was midway through destroying 23 tons of stockpiled mustard gas, along with about 1,300 tons of chemical precursors that, when the war broke out, could have been used to produce Sarin and other chemical agents.
However, we still have to be concerned about the remaining 2,000 tons of unenriched uranium yellowcake, 11 metric tons of mustard agents, radioactive isotopes from Libya's research reactor, over 200 shorter-range Scud-B ballistic missiles, and about 30,000 shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles, some of which are still under Qaddafi loyalists' control.
CNS Experts Comment
Experts from the Monterey Institute's James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) who have monitored events in Libya offered the following comments on recent developments.
Ambassador Nabil Fahmy
Chair of the CNS Middle East Nonproliferation Project, and former ambassador of Egypt to the United States
Reflecting reaction in the Arab World, Amb. Nabil Fahmy observed that:
"Qaddafi with weapons of mass destruction was a bad situation, but unsecured weapons in a state of chaos could be even worse. At first glance the situation in Libya appears to be very precarious even as the revolutionaries remove a dictator. It will take time for Libya to stabilize even after Qaddafi leaves the scene or is incarcerated. Perhaps we can be reassured by the statements attributed to U.S. officials that 'Libya's weapons of mass destruction are secure.' This may well imply that international forces or their surrogates have control of the facilities where WMD materials exist."
Dr. Jeffrey R. Lewis
Director of the CNS East Asia Nonproliferation Program
Dr. Jeffrey R. Lewis recently analyzed how the Scud-B missiles that Qaddafi agreed to eliminate years ago were not destroyed and, in fact, were used against the rebels.
"Muammar Qaddafi's renunciation of weapons of mass destruction ultimately included in commitment to eliminate his force of more the 400 Scud B missiles by September 2009. Yet this stockpile was still in place when the United States began Operation Odyssey Dawn/Unified Protector in March 2011. Efforts to dispose of these missiles had floundered as Libya sought a replacement system such as the Russian Iskander missile before eliminating its Scud B stockpile. Libya's reluctance to surrender its Scud B missiles before procuring a replacement suggests that conventionally-armed ballistic missiles play an important deterrent role for Middle Eastern leaders like Qaddafi."
Lewis' full article can be accessed at Qaddafi's Scud-B missiles.
Dr. Avner Cohen
CNS Senior Fellow
Dr. Avner Cohen observed:
"The unfolding dramatic events in Libya explain vividly why the 'Arab Spring' is such a complex and non-unitary phenomenon. There is no one model, or no one simple pattern. We have seen total regime change in Tunisia, Egypt and now in Libya, but in each country the narrative of the revolution is dramatically different. The regime change in Libya, with active participation and support from NATO, also explains why outside powers are so hesitant to take any action in Syria, even though the violence and bloodshed there are more intense than in Libya. The presence of WMD in Syria, and its alliance with Iran make the Syrian situation extremely explosive and dangerous."
Mr. Bilal Saab
CNS Visiting Fellow and Middle East expert
Mr. Bilal Saab observed that:
"U.S. officials are already expressing concerns about managing the aftermath of Qaddafi's downfall. This is a promising sign and an indicator that the lessons of the post-war Iraqi debacle have been taken to heart, at least in theory. Like Iraq, however, there is no doubt that Libya's transition from dictatorship to representative government will be fraught with danger, both in the short and long terms."
His recent article on how rebel advances in Tripoli could turn the tide for the Syrian opposition can be accessed at Libya endgame: Lessons for Syria's protesters
Libya's Muammar Qaddafi
Contact CNS Experts
For additional commentary, please contact the following CNS experts:
|Return to Top|