US sends warning to Libya over 'pursuit of WMD'
By Kim Sengupta
21 June 2003
Libya has been "aggressively pursuing" the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction since the United Nations sanctions against the country were suspended after the Lockerbie trial, America claimed yesterday.
John Bolton, under secretary of state for arms control and international security, signalled that Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's regime was once again in Washington's sights.
Although the alleged nuclear threats posed by Iran and North Korea have both been in the headlines, the Bush administration is closely monitoring developments in other countries such as Libya and Syria. According to diplomatic sources, America is investigating whether the Gaddafi regime has recruited Iraqi scientists who had previously worked for Saddam Hussein.
Mr Bolton said during a visit to London yesterday: "Since the sanctions were lifted, Libya has been able to exploit the normalisation of the economy to be more aggressive in pursuing weapons of mass destruction. For example, Libyan agents are trying to acquire dual-use technology. That in itself is very worrying."
The UN sanctions against Libya were lifted after Colonel Gaddafi's regime co-operated over the extradition of two men charged with the Lockerbie bombing. A separate set of US sanctions remains in place.
A CIA report to Congress stated: "Although Libya is making overtures to the West in an attempt to strengthen relations, Libya's continuing interest in nuclear weapons and ongoing nuclear infrastructure upgrades raises concerns."
Iran remains a more immediate concern for the United States. Mr Bolton said Tehran appeared to be on course to acquire nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them by the end of the decade or even sooner, and he said Washington reserved the right to take military action if Iran continued with its policy.
"It has to be an option," he said. "The President has repeatedly said all options are on the table."
Mr Bolton said the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran was particularly worrying because Tehran remained "the world's leading supporter of terrorism".