Monday, 28 March 2011

Libyan Military Fire Power

People's Militia

The concept of universal military service is embodied in Statute 3 for 1984, approved by the GPC in March 1984. This law declared that all Libyans coming of age, whether male or female, were to receive regular military training, as long as they were physically able. Military studies were to be among the basic subjects of the educational curriculum at all stages above the elementary level. Military studies and training in regular military establishments of "specialized cadres in warfare" were to be restricted for the present to males.

The statute provided for Libya to be divided into defense regions, the responsibility for defending each region being that of its inhabitants. Defense regions were to regard themselves as strategic reserves for each other. The new law did not supersede the provisions of the Compulsory Military Service Statute of 1978, which made all males between the ages of seventeen and thirty-five subject to a draft commitment of three years of active service in the army or four years in the navy or air force. Students could defer service until completion of their studies. The actual application of conscription laws in 1987 was not entirely clear. In one case, a young man called up for two years' service was required to serve six years. In 1986, of 936,000 men in the 15 to 59 age category, about 550,000 were fit for military service. About 39,000 Libyans reach military age each year; many, however, lack the basic education needed to absorb training in the use and servicing of modern weaponry.

The implementing regulations for the 1984 statute stipulated that all secondary schools and equivalent institutions were to be assigned to various military units. Each student was to devote two days each month to training with the nearest military element having a specialization approximating that of the unit to which the student had been assigned. One month each year was to be spent with the student's original military unit.

Members of all government and business enterprises as well as artisans, professionals, and farmers, were also to train for two days a month and one month a year. At some factories, the military commitment was more onerous. When the work day finished at 2:00 P. M., employees were obliged to spend three to four hours with their military units five days each week. Such periods of intensive training continued for six months or more at intervals of every few years.

To a considerable extent, the new law merely reinforced a program in existence for some years to mobilize the entire population of physically fit students and working people into local militia units centered on schools, communities, and workplaces. The number of individuals organized into paramilitary units has been estimated at 45,000 but may have increased with the application of the new law. In 1987 the People's Militia was headed by Major Khuwayldi al Hamidi, one of the original members of the RCC. The militia units reportedly were generously equipped with arms, transport, and uniforms. In November 1985, it was announced that the first contingent of "armed people" trained as paratroopers had made a demonstration drop.

In early 1986, Western reporters were shown military training at a high school in Tripoli at which a minimum of two out of thirty-six class hours a week were devoted to military studies. In addition, one of three summer months was spent at a military camp. Graduates either entered the army directly or went on to college. Those entering college had to continue reserve training at their former high schools. The weekly lessons included hand-grenade throwing, signals and codes, and machine-gun maintenance. High schools concentrated on designated specialties, which in the case of the institution visited was the operation of the Soviet truckmounted Katyusha rocket launcher.

The mission of the People's Militia was territorial defense, and it was to function under the leadership of local military commanders. Qadhafi contended that it was the People's Militia that met the Egyptian incursions during the border clash of 1977, although the Egyptians insisted that their successful raids had been contested by regular army units. The militia forces are not known to have faced any other test that would permit an appraisal of their performance in home defense or as auxiliaries to the regular army. There was some evidence that local commanders had not responded energetically to their responsibility for training and supervising militia units.

Women in the Armed Forces

Qadhafi has persistently sought to usher in a policy of direct participation by women in national defense. His efforts, which have been resisted by conservative elements of Libyan society and apparently by most young women as well, derived from his argument that women of the Arab world live in a subjugated state and must be liberated from oppression and feudalism. Qadhafi viewed practices governing a woman's role in society and her legal rights as disrespectful, reactionary, and contrary to the Quran.

Speaking at a rally in Tripoli in 1978, Qadhafi said that the goal of a totally armed people would be fully realized "when all Libyans--men and women--have been trained in an organized, modern fashion." Addressing in the same speech the political and religious problems that a full-fledged military role for women presented in Islamic Libya, Qadhafi declared that this "is not against religion, not against marriage, not against ethics."

Shortly thereafter, it was announced that women were to be conscripted along with men, but this plan apparently was not fully implemented. A women's army college opened in Tripoli in 1979, training volunteers aged thirteen to seventeen in basic military subjects and the use of various weapons. A total of 7,000 students had passed through the academy by 1983. Some female pilots and naval recruits had reportedly also been enlisted. Nevertheless, the notion of women as soldiers remained unpopular. Some observers believed that many of the students had been coerced into entering the academy. The institution was closed in November 1983, reportedly after students ripped down fences to escape and return to their homes.

Nonetheless, the new legislation introduced in February 1984 covering universal military service specifically included women. When the GPC took the almost unprecedented step of rejecting the proposal, Qadhafi saw this as evidence of lingering reactionary attitudes in a society that had not whole heartedly accepted the revolution. "Spontaneous demonstrations" of young women demanding the right to engage in military service were organized. In a speech on March 12, 1984, Qadhafi announced that popular demand made it necessary to introduce compulsory military service for all in spite of the CPC's action. After the Libyan retreat from Chad in March 1987, there were indications that women had served there in administrative positions.

The women's military academy was not reopened, however, and no immediate steps were taken to institute full-time military service for women. Training was apparently to remain an adjunct to high school and university studies. Even so, there was evidence that the program was not being resolutely enforced. As late as April 1986, the Libyan press mentioned complaints over the delays and haphazard nature of the training programs at the Zlitan Women Teachers' Institute, apparently owing to the indifference of local military authorities.

Libyan Army

The Army is charged with border protection and acting as a rapid deployment force depending on operational circumstances. Doctrine is a mixture of Egyptian doctrine which was adopted after the 1969 coup and socialist principles derived from the concepts of a People’s Army. The Libyan Army is the largest and most developed branch of the armed forces. The Libyan Army is generally regarded as neither efficient nor well trained. Limited combat experience includes a rather disastrous showing in operations against Chad, which highlighted its many weaknesses. Over 4,000 Libyan soldiers were killed by Chad's forces between January and March 1987.

The pattern of troop concentrations could not be determined precisely from published sources. Some troops were at the operational sites, including Tripoli, Misratah, Az Zawiyah, Surt, Benghazi, Darnah, and Tobruk, that were established at strategic points along the Mediterranean coast during World War II. Others were at inland sites at desert oases, such as Sabha, and farther south, at Al Kufrah, which became the main base for operations in Chad. Areas adjacent to the Egyptian border, particularly along lines of movement, were also well defended. Many army units were scattered throughout populated areas, owing in part to their responsibility for training People's Militia units.

Few details were available on army training. The military academy at Benghazi, established before independence with British assistance, offered its cadets courses in higher education and military subjects to prepare them for active duty as junior officers. Qadhafi and other members of the RCC attended the institution, but it was closed after the coup. Later a military academy opened at Tripoli.

In 1985 a military engineering college (at an unspecified location) to provide training in all technical military specialities was proposed. The college was to have a four-year program leading to a bachelor's degree. At about the same time, the establishment of a reserves college with a one-year program leading to the rank of second lieutenant in the reserves was announced. Admission would be contingent on the attainment of a university degree or its equivalent and a demonstration of "adherence to the great Fatah revolution." Because Libya is not known to have an active reserve program, it remained unclear how the graduates of this institution would be used.

By the late 1980s, the Libyan army was well outfitted with modern armaments, including rocket systems, armored vehicles for its infantry and artillery, engineering equipment, up-to-date Soviet infantry weapons, sophisticated fire-control systems, flame throwers and chemical munitions, and antitank guided missiles. Libya's more than 3,000 tanks gave it the tenth largest tank force in the world. Its range of tracked and wheeled armor, tank transporters, and air transport ensured it the necessary mobility to bring its forces to bear rapidly against any threat to its territorial integrity and enabled it to intervene in ventures far beyond its borders.

The army was nevertheless confronted by grave deficiencies. The high technological level of its equipment demanded a corresponding level of technical competence in operation and maintenance that the army lacked. Maintenance and repair problems were exacerbated by the diversity of arms sources--British, American, French, Soviet, Italian, and Brazilian. The numerous foreign advisers and technicians were insufficient to overcome low standards of support and logistics. To judge from the ability the Libyans demonstrated in Chad to sustain modern combat operations over extended supply lines, some progress was being made in correcting these problems.

Recent years saw the Army undermined by the embargo, which deprived it of new weapons. International sanctions against Libya caused major problems with equipment maintenance, making an accurate assessment difficult. In the 1990s European and US agencies intercepted numerous shipments of spare parts and dual-use material being smuggled to Libya, but it must be assumed that some clandestine shipments did get through. It was aanticipated that the ending of sanctions and the procurement of new equipment, as well as new training opportunities, may herald an improvement in the capabilities of the army.

After many years of sanctions, Libya had a requirement for a wholesale modernisation of its vehicle fleet. All major areas of the land forces equipment need improvment, especially the replacement of obsolete Soviet main battle tanks and artillery. Over half of Libya's armored forces were thought to be in storage following the chronic shortage of spare parts for Soviet-era equipment, which in any event was rapidly becoming obsolete. Much of the Soviet-era equipment needed to be replaced including main battle tanks and land vehicles. Libya was looking to France to bolster the anti-armor capabilities of the land forces, concluding a US$218.4 million deal in August 2007 with MBDA for the supply of Milan ADT-ER anti-tank missiles. The UK may also become a supplier of defence materiel. Probably the largest number of vehicles to be procured will be wheeled tactical vehicles as these can perform a wide range of roles in all types of warfare. In February 2009 the Bin Jabr Group received a contract to provide 120 Nimr 4×4 vehicles, specifically developed for operating in desert conditions, featuring a custom cooling system.

Libyan Navy

The navy has always been the stepchild of the Libyan armed forces, although its Soviet-supplied submarines and fast-attack craft with missiles have endowed it with the potential for inflicting damage on other naval powers in the Mediterranean. The enormous firepower available to small vessels armed with missiles and sophisticated electronic guidance systems has enabled Qadhafi to assemble a modern flotilla at relatively low cost and with few personnel. The navy consisted of no more than 200 officers and men when the first warship was delivered to the Idris regime in 1966. Under Qadhafi, naval personnel had increased to 6,500 by 1986 and was expected to rise still further to meet the staffing needs of additional ships on order.

Traditionally, the navy's primary mission has been to defend the coast and to assist the other services in maintaining internal security and public order. After the previously separate customs and harbor police were joined with the navy in a single command under the Ministry of Defense in 1970, the mission was extended to include responsibilities for curbing smuggling and for enforcing customs laws.

The rapid naval buildup that occurred during the 1970s was intended to enforce Qadhafi's claim of sovereignty over the Gulf of Sidra with its sponging and fishing grounds as well as potential unexploited mineral wealth. The navy could also deter landings or raids aimed against the country's oil fields and vulnerable oil transport network. The purpose of acquiring amphibious ships for landing infantry and tanks was less obvious. One explanation might be to present a threat to Egyptian forces near the border with Libya. The Egyptians' sole land supply route is the coastal road from Alexandria.

Little information was available on the navy's organizational structure, but Tripoli was known to be the site of the naval command headquarters at Al Khums and of the principal naval base. Other bases were located in the ports of Tripoli, Darnah (Derna) and Benghazi, with other Naval bases at Al Khums and Tobruq. A repair base was located at Al Khums east of Tripoli, and a submarine base was constructed at Ras al Hilal. The Naval air station is at Al Girdabiyah, and the Naval Infantry battalion is stationed at Sidi Bilal.

As of early 1987, the Libyan navy had faced no hostile actions except for the encounter with the American fleet in March 1986 in which one missile boat and a corvette were destroyed and others possibly damaged. Earlier, it was reported that the small Libyan vessels were experiencing difficulty in obeying Qadhafi's order to remain at sea to avoid the risk of being bombed in port by American planes. The fleet reported breakdowns of engines and electronic failures as well as shortages of food and fuel.

On 11 October 2008 a naval task force from Russia's Northern Fleet, led by the nuclear-powered missile cruiser Pyotr Veliky, arrived in the Libyan capital, Tripoli. after training at sea and some visits to other foreign ports, the Russian warships will head for the Caribbean to hold exercises in November 2008 with Venezuela's navy. The Neustrashimy (Fearless) missile frigate from Russia's Baltic Fleet has also called at Tripoli to replenish supplies. The frigate would after leaving Tripoli continue its tour of duty via the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean. The Neutrashimy went to Somalia where it ensured the safety of Russian vessels passing through this area against pirate attacks.

On 16 January 2009 RIA Novosti reported that the deputy chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces said Russia believed it was too early to name any countries where its Navy would like to deploy "basing points,". Russian media previously reported that Russia was looking at possible naval facilities in Yemen, Syria and Libya, among other countries. The Soviet-era Navy maintenance site in Syria named Tartus is the only Russian foothold in the Mediterranean. Russian media reports earlier said the facility could be turned into a base. About 10 Russian warships and three floating piers are reported to be currently deployed there, and Russia is expanding the port and building a pier in nearby El-Latakia.

Qaddafi may think Russia's military presence would protect Libya from possible attacks by the United States, which is not willing to embrace the colonel despite numerous conciliation gestures. Russia may still decide to establish a naval base at Benghazi, because it will cost a lot and Libya needs the money. But can Russia do it in conditions of the global financial crisis, when its international reserves are decreasing by day and the once full flow of petrodollars is dwindling into a small creek?

By the late 1980s it was considered probable that the Libyan navy was overextended, having carried out a rapid buildup without sufficient trained personnel. More than one-third of the entire naval complement of 6,500 would be required to supply a single crew for each of the ships in commission in 1986. In addition, personnel would have to be found to staff a number of other vessels on order. Aggravating the problem of reaching a satisfactory level of operation, training, and maintenance was the need to become familiar with a variety of modern weapons systems from numerous supplier countries, among them Britain, France, Italy, Yugoslavia, and the Soviet Union.

Many vessels are not operational and seldom go to sea. Serviceability has improved, thanks to Ukrainian assistance and with the lifting of sanctions this process may accelerate. Naval helicopters are all shore based, with the Russian-built helicopters in one squadron and French types in a second. As of 2007 the Libyan navy had one operational Koni class corvette, a pair of Nanuchka light corvettes and half a dozen FACs (a mix of Combattante II and Osa II) and a pair of LSTs used for training. The overall operational effectiveness of the navy is very low and by 2010 the operational status of the Koni-class frigate Al Hani 212 is doubtful.

By 2001 the six Foxtrot class submarines were non-operational. One was trapped in Lithuania due to sanctions on Libya and was eventually scrapped, one sank in port and has been hulked. Only recent activity was use of two units as surfaced patrol ships circa 1995. These two Foxtrot-class (Project 641) submarines - Al Khyber 315 and Al Hunain 316 - have a capacity of 44 mines in place of torpedoes. However, the overall operational effectiveness of the navy is very low and by 2010 the operational status of the the submarines is doubtful.

There are reports of six two-man Mala-class SDVs, which can carry 250 kg of limpet mines, equipping Libya's naval infantry battalion stationed at Sidi Bilal. Two units were transferred from Yugoslavia in each of the years 1977, 1981 and 1982. By 2010 their operational status was doubtful and all were probably non-operational.

A of 2010 the Libyan Navy operated four Natya (Project 266ME)-class ocean minesweepers, though these were mostly used for coastal patrols and had never been observed minesweeping. Ras Al Fulaijah 117, Ras Al Qula 119, Ras Al Massad 123 and Ras Al Hani 125 were part of a batch transferred from the USSR between 1981 and 1986 with a further four of the class non-operational. Despite their lack of activity in the minesweeping role, the vessels are equipped with contact, acoustic and magnetic sweeps. Ras Al Massad has been used for training cruises. Most Libyan vessels can lay mines with the Natya-class minesweepers able to carry 10, the two Koni (Project 1159)-class frigates (Al Hani 212 and Al Qirdabiyah 213) having a capacity for 20 mines. The Libyan Navy is known to possess a number of Russian supplied MYaM shallow water moored contact mines.

Libyan Air Force

Libya has the largest Air Force in North Africa, but has not demonstrated any capability of effective employment and has struggled to maintain air and ground crews capable of flying and servicing the aircraft. With Soviet assistance, the air force was organized into medium bomber, fighter-bomber (ground attack), fighter-interceptor, reconnaissance, transport, training, and helicopter squadrons. The fighter-interceptor, medium bomber, and reconnaissance squadrons are located at bases along Libya's coast and along its border with Egypt. The helicopter squadrons are probably based to support ground troops, but overall command apparently rests with air force headquarters in Tripoli.

Last of the military services to be established, the air force has been obliged to struggle to develop trained air and ground crews to match the rapid acquisition of modern planes and weaponry. As a result, in spite of the significant inventory of combat aircraft, amounting to more than 500 as of early 1987, Libyan air units have been committed only reluctantly and have not acquitted themselves impressively in air-to-air engagements. However, the considerable air transport fleet, has apparently been employed capably in Chad and elsewhere. Although the air force was extensively used in support of Libyan ground units in the fighting in Chad, it does not seem to have played a decisive role.

The Air Force is organized into an Air Command which is subdivided into squadrons and regiments which attention paid to close air support and ground attack. Eight close battlefield support squadrons and nine air defence squadrons exist. The size of the Air Force in 1990 was 22,000 persons including 15,000 conscripts. It had 426 combat aircraft and 52 armed helicopters with many more in store.

At the time of the overthrow of the monarchy in 1969, the roster of personnel was only about 400 officers and enlisted men. A recruitment drive undertaken in 1970 eventually brought a tenfold increase in the force by 1978. As of 1986, its strength was estimated at 10,000.

It appears that the Air Defense Command may have been merged into the Air Force in the late 1980s or early 1990s, but information is not clear on this. Air Defense units were equipped with a variety of Soviet supplied surface-to-air missiles (SAM), antiaircraft guns (AAA), and radars, but as was shown in the US raid in 1986, the Libyans have not shown an ability to integrate these systems into any comprehensive air defense network. Organization of the Air Defense Command is unclear.

With Soviet assistance, the air force was organized into one medium bomber squadron, three fighter interceptor squadrons, five forward ground attack squadrons, one counterinsurgency squadron, nine helicopter squadrons, and three air defense brigades deploying SA-2, SA-3, and Crotale missiles. The three SA-5 launch sites may have been operated by army units.

The country's burgeoning inventory of air force weapons accounted for a considerable share of Libya's procurement efforts. The hundreds of aircraft acquired since 1969 included American helicopters and transports (although deliveries of United States planes were blocked in 1975), later-model French close-air-support fighters, and up-to-date fighter interceptors from the Soviet Union. Of the combat aircraft, the United States Department of State estimated in 1983 that 50 percent remained in storage, including most of the MiG fighters and Tu-22 bombers. According to another report, the Mirage aircraft were so neglected that only half were in flying condition, the others being cannibalized for spare parts. Pilots from Syria and other countries reportedly helped fly the Libyan planes, and instructors, technical personnel, and maintenance teams included Soviets, Pakistanis, and Yugoslavs.

The air force's primary installation was the huge Uqba ben Nafi Air Base (the former Wheelus Air Base) near Tripoli. It had excellent operational features and contained the service's headquarters and a large share of its major training facilities. Both MiG fighters and Tu-22 bombers were located there. A large air base at a site near Benghazi shared with the civil airport also had some MiG squadrons. Most of the Mirages were located at Gamal Abdul Nasser Air Base. Two airfields not far from the Egyptian border, at Al Kufrah Oasis and at Jabal al Uwaynat in the far south, were among the Libyan installations attacked by Egyptian air crews during the 1977 border clash. The Soviets have constructed another base in central Libya at the new army headquarters site of Al Jufrah near Hun with a runway of over 4,000 meters.

An air force academy established at Az Zawiyah near Misratah in 1975 was reportedly staffed mainly by Yugoslavs. Institutions referred to as "secondary colleges," possibly technical training schools, were opened at Sabha and at Uqba ben Nafi Air Base in 1978. Basic pilot training was conducted on Italian-manufactured SF-260 planes before the students moved on to the Soko G-2AE Galebs (Yugoslav) and the Aero L-39 Albatros (Czechoslovak) at Az Zawiyah. Additional training took place outside Libya. Several hundred Libyan students were reportedly undergoing instruction with the Dassault firm in France in 1983 as part of the Mirage contract. This was at a time of confrontation between French and Libyan forces in Chad.

Information on training programs conducted by the Soviet Union was scanty but in light of the sophisticated weapons in the air force inventory, it could be assumed that much time and effort were invested in producing even a limited number of combat-ready crews, backed up by ground support personnel. Soviet specialists reportedly accompanied the Libyans during the 1980 incursion into Chad and possibly were directly involved in missions of the Tu-22 bombers.

Much of Libyan air doctrine appeared to be of an ad hoc nature and contracted personnel from Yugoslavia. South Africa, Russia, North Korea and Pakistan provide piloting, maintenance and technical services. It is possible that contract officers often fly important operational missions, such is the low standard of locally trained aircrew. Russian pilots who have been to Libya have remarked upon the apparent disinclination, if not inability, of Libyan pilots to tolerate and become accustomed to high G-force maneuvers.

The performance of the Libyan air force in emergency conditions cannot have been reassuring to Qadhafi. Libyan pilots have reportedly experienced difficulty in finding and identifying aircraft they have been ordered to intercept. They have been reluctant to fly at night for fear of being unable to locate their bases. To some extent, these problems may reflect outdated navigation and radar aids in their combat aircraft, which are mostly older, stripped-down versions of Soviet designs. The two Su22 fighters were handicapped in their engagement with carrier-based American F-14s in 1981 because the equipment, instruments, and airto -air missiles were outmoded in comparison with those of their adversaries. In spite of Qadhafi's express warning that his air force would repel the United States fleet in the Gulf of Sidra in 1986, his planes did not seriously challenge the American naval units. In addition, Libyan planes did not take off to meet the American fighter-bombers that attacked targets at Benghazi and Tripoli in April 1986; consequently many planes were destroyed or damaged on the ground. In Chad it was reported that many Libyan bombing raids were carried out at excessively high altitudes when met with antiaircraft fire.


Civil aviation in Libya was the responsibility of the Secretariat of Communications, which operated all airports, and the Civil Aviation Institute, which trained all personnel. The three internation airports in 1985 were located at Tripoli (Al Aziziyah), Benghazi (Benina), and Sabha. Smaller airfields were located at Marsa al Burayqah, Tobruk Ghat, Ghadamis, Al Kufrah, and several other locations. Most civil air personnel went abroad for training. Britain suspended its air traffic control training program for Libyans in 1985, but Pakistan subsequently agreed to train about seventy-eight Libyan air traffic controllers.
NameICAOTypeLatitudeLongitudeRunway ft.Elevation ft.
Military Airfields
AL BUMBAH NORTHHLC32.452923.118611,15533
AL JUFRA [Al Jufra-Hun]HLC29.198116.001013,729846
BENINA [Benghazi]HLLBB32.096820.269511,732433
EL BEIDA [LABRAQ]HLLQB32.788621.964411,8242,157
GAMAL ABD EL NASSERHLC31.861323.90709,895519
GHADAMES EASTHLTDA30.15179.715311,8111,122
MITIGA [UMM AITIQAH]HLLMA32.894113.276011,07636
OKBA IBN NAFAHLC32.473411.897910,500253
SIRTE [Ghurdabiya-Sirte]HLGDC31.063316.595011,807267
TRIPOLI INTL [Tripolis-Tarrabalus AB]HLLTB32.663513.159011,815263
Other Airfields
AGEDABIA [AJDABIYAH ]HLAGD30.765120.19143,36050
AL BOOSTERHLD29.874323.347211,503175
AL HAMADA CON 66 EASTHLD29.529412.94427,7732,090
AL KHADIMHLD31.998521.191811,838800
AL KHUWAYMATHLD27.257321.618111,811500
AL MARJHLD32.525320.87514,275950
AL WIGHHLD24.185914.532811,9751,558
AMAL V12 [AMAL 3]HLAMD29.479521.12245,700145
BEDA M3HLD28.503319.00287,495499
BENI WALIDHLD31.739213.95405,905985
BIR UMRANHLD26.332413.42214,9201,400
BU ATTIFELHLFLD28.795422.08097,051161
HABIT AWLAD MUHAMMADHLD30.701412.48457,7582,000
MATAN AS SARRAHLD21.687521.831011,0131,722
NAFURAH 1HLD29.212921.59209,832122
OXY A 103 [AKLASH WADI]HLD29.006220.78615,940318
QARYAT AL KARMALHLD31.975720.02693,28085
RAS LANUF OILHLNFD30.500018.52725,90342
SARIR NWHLD27.975722.35747,218330
SIDI SALIHHLD32.495013.28893,235490
WADI BUZANAD SWHLD28.961917.58816,160489
WAREHOUSE 59AHLD28.322419.93006,918488
WAREHOUSE 59EHLGLD28.635321.43866,539325
WAW AL KABIRHLD25.356816.810012,4801,465
ZELLA 74HLZAD28.590117.29427,0921,085
ZELTEN SW NEWHLD28.587119.30345,162550
ZUETINA [AZ ZUWAYTINAH]HLD30.870220.07555,72516

Libyan Missiles

Libya has land- and sea-launched short range anti-ship cruise missiles that it purchased from Soviet and European sources. Many of the systems are old and likely are suffering from maintenance problems.
Libya had a theoretical capability of delivering weapons of mass destruction in the form of Scud and FROG missiles and missiles delivered by medium-range Tu-22 bombers. Libya also has a variety of fighter aircraft, some old bombers, helicopters, artillery, and rockets available as potential means of delivery for NBC weapons. Libya used transport aircraft in its attempt to deliver chemical agents against Chadian troops in 1987.

Despite the UN embargo, Libya continued to aggressively seek ballistic missile-related equipment, materials, and technology from a variety of sources in Europe, the former Soviet Union, and Asia.
The imposition of UN sanctions impeded Libyan efforts to obtain foreign assistance for its longer-range missile programs.

Libya wanted longer-range missiles, even beyond the No Dong class medium-range missile. Tripoli would be likely to continue to try for longer-range systems to increase the number of US and NATO targets it can hold at risk. If a missile were offered with a range sufficient to strike 2,500 kilometers into Europe, Libya would try to obtain it. Libya's paths to obtaining an ICBM over a 15-year period probably would be to purchase a complete missile system or to set up a foreign assistance arrangement wherein the scientists and technicians went to Libya, developed the infrastructure, and developed the missile right there.

According to the Rumsfeld Commission report, Col. Gadhafi said of his adversaries in a 1990 speech: "If they know that you have a deterrent force capable of hitting the United States, they would not be able to hit you. If we had possessed a deterrent - missiles that could reach New York - we would have hit it at the same moment [as the 1986 U.S. air strike on Libya]. Consequently, we should build this force so that they and others will no longer think about an attack." Then in late 1995, Col. Gadhafi said "As things stand today, I would attack every place from where aggression against Libya was being planned. I would even be prepared to hit Naples, where there is a NATO base."

On 19 December 2003 Libya agreed to destroy all of its chemical, nuclear, and biological weapons. The surprise announcement followed nine months of secret talks between Libyan, American, and British officials. Libya agreed to allow for immediate inspections and monitoring, and to eliminate ballistic missiles traveling more than 300 kilometers with a 500 kilogram payload.
A team of American and British intelligence officers spent about two weeks Libya in October and again in December 2003. During the visits, the team of US and UK inspectors went to 10 sites related to Libya's nuclear effort, chemical stockpile and missile program [other accounts suggested that the team was taken to dozens of sites]. Inspectors had learned that Libya had a supply of Scud-C ballistic missiles made in North Korea. Libya agreed to eliminate the North Korean Scud-Cs, but not Scud-Bs, which have a 300 km range.

Scud-B / SS-21 Scarab / Frog-7

Libya obtained Scud-B and Frog-7 missiles from the Soviet Union in the mid-1970s. Libya’s inventory of ballistic missiles consists of some 80 Scud B SRBM TELs and 40 FROG-7 artillery rockets TELs.
It is believed that Libya possessed at least three times as many missiles as launchers. Libya continued to maintain a SCUD missile force, although that force is aging and suffers from maintenance problems. Some reports indicated that Libya could not successfully operate the Scud B system, and that many of the launchers and missiles had been sold to Iran. The Russian-made SS-21 Scarab SRBM has a 70 km range and 480 kg payload, and the Frog-7 has a range of 40km.

On 15 April 1986, Libya fired two or three Scuds at the US Coast Guard navigation station on the Italian island of Lampedusa, in retaliation for the US bombing raid on Tripoli. The missiles landed in the sea short of the island, and cause no damage.


Libya is reported to have the North Korean Scud-C Short-Range Ballistic Missile (SRBM) variant with a 550 km range and 500 kg payload. The Scud-B has a 300 km range and 985 kg payload. The CIA reported in August 2000 that Libya had continued its efforts to obtain ballistic missile-related equipment, materials, technology, and expertise from foreign sources.

One example was the attempt in 1999 to ship Scud-related parts as "automotive parts" from a firm in Taiwan which were intercepted in the UK. In January 2000, the 32 crates of missile parts disguised as auto parts were discovered at London's Gatwick Airport on a British Airways flight bound for Tripoli via Malta. Libya is believed to have been the purchaser of the large shipment of missile-related technology aboard the North Korean-flagged freighter Kuwolsan, intercepted by Indian customs officers in June 1999 at the port of Kandla. The ship carried hundreds of missile components, machine tools, and detailed plans for variants of the Scud-B and Scud-C missiles.

Orbital Transport-und-Raketen Aktiengesellschaft (OTRAG)

The West German firm Orbital Transport und Raketen Aktiengesellschaft (OTRAG) shifted its development of a commercial space launch rocket from Zaire to Libya in 1979 and apparently had one or two rather unsuccessful tests there in 1981. A test flight was reported from either the Sebha Oasis or the Jarmah Oasis on 01 March 1981, at which time OTRAG announced that many tens of moduls were currently in production in its manufacturing facility near Munich/Germany. OTRAG claimed that it was working on a nonmilitary rocket to enable Third World countries to launch satellites cheaply. OTRAG became inactive in late 1984, and this effort soon collapsed. Although the Germans withdrew formally under pressure from the Bonn government in 1981, the latest test occurred in 1987. This may be explained by other reports that the head of OTRAG, Lutz Kayser, remained in Libya until the mid-1980s. A London report further claimed that, in October 1989, about 100 German engineers were working on a 500-750-km missile system, code-named "Ittisalt," in a desert camp about 100 km from Sebha, the site of the earlier OTRAG work and also the location of an alleged second Libyan chemical weapons complex. The missile work was reported to be in the research and development stage.

Condor 2 / Al Fatah

Libyan efforts to develop its own missile have met with only limited success. Its Al Fatah missile program has remained in a preliminary stage. This developmental effort uses a rocket with a fairly small payload. Libya’s lack of progress with its missile program is directly related to its inability to gain adequate foreign assistance for its efforts, again partly due to UN sanctions.

The Condor 2 program was initiated by in Argentina in 1982. A two stage, solid-fuelled missile intended to carry a 450 kg payload (possibly a nuclear warhead) at least 900 km, the project attracted co-funding from Egypt in 1984 and Iraq in 1985. In April 1990, under pressure from the United States, the Argentinean government announced that the project had been shelved. Iraq continued its development of the missile, known as the Badr 2000, until 1990.

The involvement of Globesat, another West German company, in a separate Libyan missile project was investigated by the Munich public prosecutor in January 1989, but the case was dropped, apparently without an indictment. One report asserted that a West German company called Technical Oil Production (TOP) was set up in 1984 as a front for missile component acquisitions for a missile project code-named al-Fatah ("the conqueror") and that TOP had exported rocket valve controls for that project. The firm was found guilty and fined.

A Serbian company known as JPL Systems in July 1996 was reported to have signed a $30 million contract with officials of Libya's Al Fatah missile-development program to provide technical support.

Israeli intelligence sources claimed that the al-Fatah is a 1,000-km range system being developed under the management of a number of foreign experts, some of whom have been identified by Israel as having worked on a Libyan missile program in the 1970s. According to the article, in 1990, the liquid-fuel rocket motor of the al-Fatah was in the static test phase of development. In 1993, Libya was reported to have tried to obtain 80 tons of ammonium perchlorate from Russia, via Ukraine, to produce solid propellants. The Ukrainians, under US pressure, impounded the shipment.

In 1995, reports appeared suggesting that Iraqi technicians were working in Libya to revive the program or to integrate it with Libya's Al Fattah program. Ater more than 15 years of development, the al-Fatah was still not operational.

Chinese technicians have been linked to the Al-Fatah missile program as early as June 1998. It is reported that the state-run China Precision Machinery Import-Export Co. and the Libyan government reached an agreement in March 1999 to help develop Libya's long-range Al-Fatah missile. Chinese technical assistance has reportedly included a hypersonic wind tunnel to be used for modeling and simulation.

In 1999 US imagery intelligence satellites photographed Libyan efforts to enlarge a missile test facility as part of the Al-Fatah development program. The indigenous 1,000-km range Al-Fatah missile, which as of early 2000 was claimed to be in the late stages of development, has not been flight tested.

In February 2002 London-based A-Sharq Al Awsat reported that Iran and Libya were negotiating a deal for the production of Iranian missiles in Libya. The deal was reported to call for Iran to establish a missile production line of Iran's Fatah solid-fuel missile in Libya. The project would enable Libya to produce missiles with a range of 1,500 kilometers, which can reach Israel and much of Europe.

MB/EE-150 / MB/EE-600

Libya may have attempted to purchase ballistic missiles from Brazil, but MTCR restrictions and US pressure probably closed off that source. In the mid-1980s, the Brazilian Orbitas consortium developed the solid-fuel the MB/EE 150 road-mobile SRBM, with a range of 150 kilometers. A 600 km-range version of the system may also have been under development. In 1988, reports suggested that an MB/EE-type system was tested over a range of 650 km in the Libya desert.

SS-23 Spider / SS-12 Scaleboard

In the 1980s, Libya reportedly sought to purchase obsolete 900 km-range SS-12 Scaleboard MRBMs that had been banned under the INF Treaty, as well as SS-23 Spider SRBMs (range 500 km), from the Soviet Union.

M-9 / CSS-2

Reports often cite Libyan interest in acquiring the Chinese M-9 or CSS-2, but to date no transfers of these missiles to Libya have been verified. US intelligence reports in December 1999 indicated that China had agreed to supply Libya with a hypersonic wind tunnel.

No Dong

Libya’s strategy has been to acquire or develop long range missiles (greater than 1,000 kilometers), but it has made little progress in recent years. For example, Libya’s efforts to acquire the North Korean No Dong missile have been unsuccessful. Such a missile would allow Libya to threaten Egypt, Israel, NATO countries in southern Europe, and US forces in the Mediterranean region.

Libyan Chemical Weapons

Italian leader Benito Mussolini reportedly authorized the use of gas bombs against Libyan rebels in 1929. T One report claims that 24 mustard gas bombs were dropped on a Libyan oasis in 1930. he Libyans were probably the victims of mustard gas attacks.

Libya has had limited success with its chemical warfare program. Libya has experienced major setbacks to its chemical warfare program, first as a result of intense public scrutiny focused on its Rabta facility in the late 1980s and more recently on its Tarhuna underground facility. Nevertheless, Libya retains a small inventory of chemical weapons, as well as the a CW agent production capability.

American efforts set back Libya's CW programs about ten years by focussing international attention on the Rabta and Tarhunah facilities and by preventing Libya from obtaining needed chemicals, equipment and
experts. Libya, after spending a great deal of money, has only a small amount of agent and two facilities it dares not use for their intended purpose. If Qadahafi had been left undisturbed, he could have had thousands of tons of a variety of chemical agents and the ability to produce much more at will.

During the 1980s, Libya succeeded in producing up to 100 tons of blister and nerve agent at its Rabta facility, built with foreign assistance.

Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi has shown that he is willing and capable of using chemical weapons and missiles against his enemies. In 1986 and 1987 the Government of Chad accused Libya of using toxic gas and napalm against central government forces and against rebel forces. Libya may have used mustard gas [possibly Iranian-supplied] delivered in bombs by AN-26 aircraft in final phases of the war against Chad in September 1987. The wind blew the agent back onto the Libyan forces.

In the early 1990s, Qadhafi turned to private contractors from Thailand and other countries to construct facilities for storing a variety of chemical weapons, including nerve gases. The government of Thailand moved in 1993 to prevent its citizens from assisting Libya's chemical weapons build-up. The United States welcomed this action by the Thai government.

Qadhafi had not given up the goal of establishing his own offensive chemicals weapons capability and Libya continues to pursue an independent production capability for the weapons. Qadhafi did not appear likely to sign or ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention. However, Libya remains heavily dependent on foreign suppliers for precursor chemicals and other key equipment. UN sanctions have severely limited that support. Finally, while Libya’s ability to deliver any of its existing stockpile of chemical agents is not great, the threat to Egypt, US forces in the region, or NATO cannot be dismissed out of hand.

Libya saw the United States as its primary external threat, owing especially to US support for United Nations sanctions against Tripoli for its refusal to turn over suspects in the terrorist bombing of Pan Am 103. Although Libya’s capabilities to use chemical agents and missiles are limited, Qadhafi could provide these weapons to states or terrorist groups he supports and that support him in return.

Qadhafi’s major limiting factor was Libya’s lack of a sufficient technological infrastructure to support domestic development of NBC weapons and missiles. All Libyan programs must rely on significant infusions of foreign equipment, technology, and expertise. Only Libya’s chemical warfare program has made any demonstrable progress developing facilities capable of supporting large-scale indigenous programs.

Despite ongoing embargoes and an unsettled domestic situation, Qadhafi supported development of NBC weapons and missile capabilities. His view apparently was that these weapons can advance his international position, can serve as deterrents against the West’s sophisticated weaponry, can be used to intimidate neighboring states, and can serve as cheaper alternatives to more expensive conventional systems.

In addition to an inadequate infrastructure, Libya has serious economic problems that threaten the regime and complicate its long-term goal of establishing domestic production capabilities. Libya’s economic problems result from insufficient economic development outside the oil sector, economic and financial mismanagement, the absence of private enterprise, and corruption.

Following the suspension of UN sanctions in April 1999, Libya reestablished contacts with
illicit foreign sources of expertise, parts, and precursor chemicals in the Middle East, Asia, and Western Europe.

Libya publicly indicated its intent to join the CWC. Under the CWC, Libya would be required to declare and destroy all chemical weapons production facilities and stockpiles, make declarations about any dual-use chemical industry, undertake not to research or produce any chemical weapons, and not to export certain chemicals to countries that have not signed the CWC. Libya would also be subject to challenge inspections of any facility, declared or not.

On 19 December 2003 Libya agreed to destroy all of its chemical, nuclear, and biological weapons. The surprise announcement followed nine months of secret talks between Libyan, American, and British officials.
Libya agreed to abide by the Chemical Weapons Convention, and to allow for immediate inspections and monitoring.
A team of American and British intelligence officers spent about two weeks Libya in October and again in December 2003. US and UK specialists invited to Libya said they found few surprises in Libya's chemical weapons program. The US and UK learned that Libya had tens of tons of mustard agent produced about a decade earlier, as well as hundreds of 250-pound aircraft bombs capable of dispersing the mustard agent in combat. During the visits, the team of US and UK inspectors went to dozens of sites related to Libya's nuclear effort, chemical stockpile and missile program. Libya revealed the existence of precursor materials used to develop nerve agents. Libya had also conducted experiments on the nerve agents sarin and soman.

A small desert ranch near Tripoli, described as a turkey farm, was actually a hiding place for hundreds of chemical bombs. The mustard gas and nerve agents were stored separately. Libyans took American inspectors right to them, but it was not a place the US would have looked.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons supervised the destruction of about 3,000 chemical bombs and warheads, which was completed in March 2004.

Libyan Biological Warfare

Libya acceded to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention [BWC] in 1982. But Libya has never filed confidence-building data declarations with the United Nations.

While Libya is believed to have had a biological warfare program for many years, it remains in the early research and development stages, primarily because Libya lacks an adequate scientific and technical base. The program also suffers from the difficulty Libya has acquiring needed foreign equipment and technical expertise, partly due to current UN sanctions. However, Libya is trying to develop an indigenous capability and may be able to produce laboratory quantities of agent. Given the overall limitations of the program, it is unlikely that Libya will be able to transition from laboratory work to production of militarily useful quantities of biological warfare agent until well after the turn of the century.

The US believes that Libya has continued its biological warfare program. Although its program is in
the research-and-development stage, Libya may be capable of producing small quantities of biological agent. Libya's BW program has been hindered, in part, by the country's poor scientific and technological
base, equipment shortages, and a lack of skilled personnel, as well as by UN sanctions in place from 1992 to 1999.

Libya's biological weapons program may be centered in the General Health Laboratories, a medical facility in the Tripoli area. It reportedly was built with Iraqi assistance, and for a time employed former South African scientists. Unconfirmed reports suggested that in 1997 about a dozen Iraqi BW experts arrived in Libya to help develop a BW complex under the guise of a medical facility called General Health Laboratories. The secret program, code named "Ibn Hayan," was said to aim to produce bombs and warheads filled with anthrax and botulinum toxin [in the 9th Century AD Jabir ibn Hayan established chemistry as an experimental science]. A number of organisations, including
universities and laboratories attached to the ministries of agriculture and health, were engaged in making ostensibly innocent purchases of dual-use diagnostic and laboratory materials.

On 19 December 2003 Libya agreed to destroy all of its chemical, nuclear, and biological weapons. The surprise announcement followed nine months of secret talks between Libyan, American, and British officials.
Libya agreed to abide by the BIological Weapons Convention, and to allow for immediate inspections and monitoring.
A team of American and British intelligence officers spent about two weeks Libya in October and again in December 2003. During the visits, the team of US and UK inspectors went to 10 sites related to Libya's nuclear effort, chemical stockpile and missile program [other accounts suggested that the team was taken to dozens of sites], but apparently no biological weapons facilities were visited. US and UK specialists invited to Libya found no concrete evidence of an existing biological weapons effort.
The team was given access to medical or pharmacological scientists and facilities, and Libyans were questioned about equipment and research that could be applied to biological warfare, but the Libyans denied that a BW program had ever existed.

Libyan Nuclear Weapons

Tripoli joined the IAEA in 1963. At one time, some observers classified Libya among the most dangerous countries from the standpoint of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons. But in recent years, concerns about Libyan nuclear ambitions have faded, though apprehensions about Libyan chemical weapons efforts remain very much alive. Libya is in no position to obtain access to nuclear weapons in the foreseeable future, given the extremely limited domestic technical base of the country.

Over the years, Libya’s nuclear program’s progress has suffered from mismanagement, lack of spare parts, and the reluctance of foreign suppliers to provide assistance, particularly since the UN embargo went into effect in 1992. However, Qadhafi had not abandoned his goal of acquiring a nuclear weapon. He continued to try to develop a Libyan nuclear weapons infrastructure. Despite a 25-year effort to acquire or develop a nuclear weapon, Libya’s nuclear program remained in the embryonic stage. Prior to 2003, the U.S. Intelligence Community estimated that Libya would have a deployable weapon by 2007. Subsequent inspections have since refuted that belief. It had succeeded in providing some training to a number of students and technicians and the establishment of a nuclear research center, which includes a small nuclear research reactor under IAEA safeguards. This facility, located at Tajura, southeast of Tripoli, was provided by the former Soviet Union. Since it was unlikely that Tripoli could produce a weapon without significant and sustained foreign technical assistance, Qadhafi reportedly was trying to recruit nuclear scientists to assist in developing nuclear weapons.

Qadhafi's stance on nuclear weapons has been contradictory. Unconfirmed but persistent press reports beginning soon after the 1969 revolution indicated that Libya wanted to purchase a nuclear weapon or the components for such a device. According to one report, Qadhafi sent his deputy, Jallud, to Beijing in an unsuccessful attempt to purchase tactical nuclear weapons. Qadhafi has voiced his concern over the Israeli nuclear capability and publicly expressed his desire to obtain nuclear weapons. Nevertheless, in 1975 Libya reaffirmed its commitment to the 1968 Treaty of Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, signed originally by the monarchy in 1968. Qadhafi also stated in interviews in 1981 and 1984 that Libya was only interested in the peaceful applications of nuclear energy, and he scoffed at the idea of "an Islamic bomb."

In 1975, Libya had ratified the Nuclear NonProliferation Treaty signed by the Idris regime in 1968. In 1980, an agreement was reached with the International Atomic Energy Agency placing all of Libya's nuclear installations under international inspection. Despite these steps, in the mid- and late 1970s, Qadhafi repeatedly proclaimed his country's determination to acquire nuclear weapons, primarily because he was convinced that his archenemy, Israel, had achieved such a military capability.

There is no doubt, however, that Libya has undertaken extensive bilateral negotiations to secure nuclear research facilities and power plants, and many Libyan students in nuclear energy fields have been sent to United States, West European, and East European universities to further their studies. According to the terms of a 1974 nuclear cooperation treaty with Argentina, Libya was provided with equipment and technical training. Argentina agreed to send senior geologists to Libya to advise on uranium prospecting and uranium enrichment. One alleged reason Libya occupied the Aouzou Strip in Chad in 1975 was that the area was thought to be rich in uranium deposits. Once inspections began after Quadafi's December 2003 decision to disarm, it was confirmed that Libya did obtain "yellow cake" from Niger in 1978, as U.S. Intelligence had long believed. Libya and India agreed in July 1978 to cooperate in the peaceful application of nuclear energy, in line with India's "atoms for peace" policy. France agreed in 1976 to build a nuclear research plant in Libya designed to power a water desalination plant.

Qadhafi sought help in obtaining nuclear technology from a number of countries, including the People's Republic of China. Among these efforts, the cooperation with Pakistan launched in 1977 seemed for a time to be producing material results. Libya appeared to be providing financial assistance and, later, deliveries of uranium "yellow cake" originating in Niger in the hope of eventually being compensated by weapons from Pakistan. However, in an interview with an Indian newspaper in March 1986, Qadhafi declared that Libya would never help Pakistan acquire an atomic bomb. He said: "We consider nuclear weapons production a great mistake against humanity."

Libya's main partner in the nuclear field, however, was the Soviet Union. A small (ten megawatt) Soviet-supplied reactor began operation in Tajura (outside Tripoli) in 1981. Three years later, a research center was opened at the same site staffed by 750 Libyan specialists and technicians aided by Soviet staff. Many students were sent abroad; a group of 200 was studying in the United States until early 1983 when the United States proscribed training Libyans in nuclear science. As noted in press reports, however, in the mid-1990s discussions between Libya and Russia indicated possible renewed Russian support for Libya’s nuclear effort at Tajura, including refurbishment and long-term maintenance.

Libya planned to buy a power station from the Soviet Union, but, dissatisfied with the technology involved, negotiated with the Belgian firm of Belgonucleaire to take over the engineering contract and supply much of the needed equipment. After the United States objected, fearing use of the equipment in weapons development, Belgium decided in 1984 to refuse the US$1 billion contract. Shortly thereafter, Moscow's commitment to construct an 880-megawatt power station to be located in the Sirt [Surt] region was reaffirmed. It was to cost over US$4 billion, with repayment to stretch over 15 to 18 years. In early 1986, however, a plan for the construction of nine 440-megawatt nuclear power plants was suspended indefinitely.

Libya ordered a pilot scale uranium conversion facility in 1984. A Japanese company supplied Libya with the technology. The sale was apparently arranged directly with the Japanese instead of through middlemen.

As of 2002 the assessment of the US Government was that, since the suspension of UN sanctions against Libya in 1999, Libya had been able to increase its access to dual-use nuclear technologies. Although Libya would need significant foreign assistance to acquire a nuclear weapon, Tripoli's

nuclear infrastructure enhancement remains of concern. Qaddafi hinted at this in a 25 March 2002 interview with Al-Jazirah when he said, "We demanded the dismantling of the weapons of mass destruction that the Israelis have; we must continue to demand that. Otherwise, the Arabs will have the right to possess that weapon."

A US-led naval operation in October 2003 interdicted a shipment of uranium-enrichment components bound for Libya. US officials say the seizure may have helped prompt Libya to make its pledge to dismantle weapons of mass destruction. The US-led naval operation resulted in the seizure of thousands of uranium-centrifuge parts, bound for Libya, from a German-registered freighter in the Mediterranean.

The vessel was seized based on intelligence information that it was carrying nuclear components, and that the interdiction was a major success for the Bush administration's Proliferation Security Initiative, the PSI. Begun in early 2003, the PSI involves the United States and more than a dozen other countries working together to prevent the illicit shipment by sea, land or air of weapons of mass destruction material that might end up in the hands of terrorist groups or rogue states. The source of the centrifuge parts bound for Libya has not been revealed.

On 19 December 2003 Libya agreed to destroy all of its chemical, nuclear, and biological weapons. The surprise announcement followed nine months of secret talks between Libyan, American, and British officials.

Libya agreed to abide by the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and to allow for immediate inspections and monitoring.

Shahram Chubin, director of studies at the Geneva Center for Security Policy, believes Gaddafi is paving the way for a secure succession for his son. "I think that Libya -- and in particular its leadership -- are getting ready for succession. They must have recognized that it makes sense to bring Libya back into the fold of the international community, and to do that they'd have to dispense with these [weapons] programs that they've been having for many, many years, which clearly serve no rational purpose. And I think it's a recognition by Gadhafi that he wants to let his son succeed him and to leave Libya in a slightly better position if he gets rid of these useless weapons, which have created unnecessary distrust and suspicion on the part of its neighbors and, of course, the international community as a whole, including Britain and the United States," Chubin said.

The October 2003 seizure of the centrifuge parts came little more than two months before the surprise announcement 19 December that Libya, after negotiations with the United States and Britain, had agreed to dismantle its secret nuclear and other weapons-of-mass destruction programs. The interdiction may well have been a factor in Libya's ultimate decision to end its covert weapons efforts. The October interdiction occurred several months after the start of secret talks between the Muammar Gadhafi government and the United States and Britain on the weapons programs. Mr. Ereli said that shortly after the seizure, Libya agreed for the first time to allow experts from the two countries to visit its weapons facilities.

Libya initiated the dialog in mid-March 2003 when it requested the UK to broker talks with the US on weapons of mass destruction. A team of American and British intelligence officers spent about two weeks Libya in October and again in December 2003. During the visits, the team of US and UK inspectors went to 10 sites related to Libya's nuclear effort, along with dozens of others related to chemical and missile programs [some reports suggested that ten nuclear related sites were visited, while other accounts suggested that the team was taken to dozens of sites in all]. Libya allowed US inspectors to visited weapons sites where they saw centrifuges for enriching uranium, which was more advanced than Washington thought. A weapons program would need hundreds of centrifuges, called a cascade, to make significant quantities of uranium. The inspection teams saw only a few centrifuges, did not see a cascade, and Libya denied that enriched uranium had been produced.

Speaking on background, a British official said Libya was "developing a nuclear fuel cycle intended to support nuclear weapons development... Libya had not acquired a nuclear weapons capability, though it was close to developing one." Also on background, a US intelligence analyst said the nuclear field was one are the Libyans were "substantially further along than had been publicly disclosed."

Libya is a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, allowing limited IAEA inspections, but now planned to sign the treaty's Additional Protocol that allows more intrusive and unannounced inspections. Initial meetings between Libyan officials and the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency could be the beginnings of a long and complex process to verify Tripoli's nuclear ambitions.

The head of the atomic agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, opened talks on 20 December 2003 with Libya on the process of future inspections of Tripoli's nuclear activities. Similar work was carried out by the UN nuclear watchdog in 1991 after South Africa announced it would voluntarily abandon its nuclear-weapons program. Senior IAEA inspectors visited the country to collect information on nuclear material, lists of imports, laboratory programs and engineering facilities. They also carried out environmental sampling in the Kalahari desert. In the case of South Africa, the IAEA placed nuclear facilities under safeguards with regular inspections and either destroyed weapons-related equipment or converted it to peaceful nuclear usage. The process took years.

In January 2004 Saif al-Islam Gadaffi said Libya spent $40 million on nuclear components, including centrifuges, from various black market dealers, including Pakistani scientists. The Pakistani scientists received as much as $100m over several years starting in the late 1990s.

Details about Libya's clandestine nuclear program emerged from a month-long investigation by US, UK and UN inspectors who were given access to formerly clandestine nuclear facilities in and around Tripoli. By late January 2004 investigators had learned that Libya had covertly acquired thousands of parts for gas centrifuges as well as machine tools for making additional centrifuges. Libya also had acquired designs for making a nuclear bomb. But key elements of the design were missing, and Libya's scientists lacked the expertise to evaluate the plans or build such a weapon.

Libya began purchasing components for a relatively simple gas centrifuge made mostly of aluminum beginning in the late 1990s. After acquiring parts for about 100 machines, Libya instead began to focus on a more sophisticated maraging steel centrifuge design. Libya had arranged to purchase 10,000 of the maraging steel centrifuges, sufficient to produce as many as ten bombs a year. Some of the centrifuge parts came from factories built expressly to manufacture nuclear components for the black market, including one possible manufacturing site in Malaysia. Libya's centrifuges are of the same design as machines used in Pakistan.

Libya had purchased a turnkey facility in which foreign suppliers would supply the parts for the gas centrifuges, as well as assemble and test them. Libya was acquiring a large uranium enrichment facility capable of producing enough HEU for several bombs a year.

On 27 January 2004 the United States airlifted out of Libya components of the nuclear weapons program that country agreed to give up. The White House hailed Libya for its cooperation and said its good faith in dismantling weapons will be reciprocated. The announcement was made several hours after the U-S transport plane had landed in the central state of Tennessee carrying some 25 metric tons of Libyan weapons program components including centrifuge parts, uranium, and sensitive documentation. The airlift was the most dramatic move since Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi concluded an agreement 19 December 2003 with the United States and Britain, to give up weapons of mass destruction programs in a bid to end two decades of international isolation and US sanctions.