Ever since Libyan ruler Muammar Qaddafi volunteered to give up his weapons of mass destruction on December 18, American and British specialist teams have been quietly swarming over key locations to speed up the dismantlement of Libya’s nuclear, biological and chemical weapons facilities, production plants, long-range missile assembly lines and army weapons depots. Their project is the biggest of its kind since Ukraine and South Africa scrapped their nuclear weapons programs in the 1990s.
An intelligence source familiar with the Libyan project told DEBKA-Net-Weekly that a secret US-British military facility has been thrown up near every known grouping of Libyan army or industrial installations; the chemical and biological decontamination crews furnished with hi-tech equipment and vehicles. The gear, the most advanced in the world, was flown in from the US.
The facilities are out of bounds to Libyans with the exception of liaison officers.
Looking like creatures from outer space, American and British specialists clamber over the Saharan dunes clad in NBC protection suits. With Libyan consent, they are burning and destroying hazardous materials. According to our military and intelligence sources, some are incinerated at temperatures of 121 degrees Celsius, while others are buried in pits 50 to 90 meters (165 ft to 295 ft) under the desert floor. Special drilling equipment drives deep holes into the ground and mechanically lowers the dangerous substances to their final resting places. Uranium-enrichment centrifuges and milling equipment is collected from missile assembly lines, brought to special shredding facilities and destroyed – but only after their countries of origin, manufacturers and serial numbers are meticulously photographed and catalogued.
The teams handling the components for assembling nuclear bombs are gathering “spark gaps”, or detonators used in atomic weapons, long-range missiles and multiple warheads at a single storage facility to await a special airlift to the United States.
According to DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s intelligence sources, no decision has been made on how to dispose of the uranium already enriched and stockpiled in Libya – enough for five to eight nuclear bombs. It will be left to President George W. Bush to decide whether or not to ship the uranium to the United States.
If a single simple motive can be attributed to Qaddafi’s willingness to relinquish his unconventional weapons it would be the dilapidated condition of Libya’s oil industry. Heavy losses incurred because of outdated oil facilities and antiquated equipment drain revenues. Libya’s industrial mainstay needs an urgent facelift, a multi-billion rehabilitation program which only American companies are technologically and financially equipped to support.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s sources report that negotiations on this program are in progress between Libya on the one hand and the United States and Britain on the other in the deepest secrecy, more closely guarded even than data on Qaddafi’s WMD. All our attempts to activate oil sources of information ran into a uniformly blank wall.
We have learned, however, that negotiations are indeed on course and that certain US oil companies have sent advance teams to Libya to survey the oil facilities present and draw up a rehabilitation plan. Our sources have been told that American and British oil firms will divide up areas of responsibility for rebuilding Libya’s oil industry between them and operate under license from the energy ministry in Tripoli.