Africa

Libya chemical weapons: 'Last ingredients' set for destruction

Danish ships in the Image copyright Danish Ministry of Defence
Image caption The items on board the Danish vessel are believed to be the last known materials to pose a chemical threat

The final batch of chemical weapon materials from strife-torn Libya has arrived in Germany to be destroyed.

Libya destroyed its stockpiles of chemical weapons in 2014.

However, hazardous materials the country still held remained a cause for international concern.

"These chemical weapon precursors have not been weaponised and now they never will be by anyone," the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said.

The international chemical weapons watchdog will now verify the destruction of all the component materials at a specialist plant in Muenster, Germany.

A ship from Denmark, accompanied by both Danish and UK naval vessels, left the Libyan port of Misrata on August 30, carrying the final shipment of chemical containers.

Libya has been wracked by political instability since the overthrow of Col Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The country has two rival parliaments and three governments, and hundreds of armed militias.

Gaddafi's government began dismantling its stockpile of chemical weapons over a decade ago, with the last destroyed by the new authorities in 2014.

But the existence of chemicals which could be turned into weapons remained a concern, particularly as the so-called Islamic State group began to gain a foothold in the African nation.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Fighters loyal to the Tobruk-based government near the centre of Benghazi in February 2016

In July, the Libyan Government of National Accord, a United Nations-brokered coalition of two rival factions, asked for international aid in destroying potential ingredients for new chemical weapons.

A number of nations including Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy and the United States contributed to the operation, which was backed by the UN Security Council.

The UK sampled and analysed the chemical compounds, as well as contributing financially.

The destruction of the compounds is the final stage of the international operation.

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