The UN Security Council has unanimously endorsed a resolution calling on the international community to assist the destruction of chemical arms in Libya, where the Daesh group has gained a foothold over the past months.
On Friday, the 15-member council authorized UN “member states to acquire, control, transport, transfer and destroy chemical weapons ... to ensure the elimination of Libya’s chemical weapons stockpile in the soonest and safest manner.”
The operation of disposing chemicals should be carried out with “appropriate consultations” with the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), according to the British-drafted motion.
Earlier this week, Libyan authorities asked the global chemical weapons watchdog, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), to draw up a plan for the destruction of Libya’s precursor chemicals that are estimated to be roughly 700 tonnes.
The toxic agents were stored at the Ruwagha depot in southeastern Libya, but they were recently transferred to a temporary storage site in the north of the African country.
Elsewhere, Friday’s resolution warned that that the potential acquisition of chemical weapons by extremist groups operating in Libya “represents a threat to international peace and security.”
Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said the adoption of the motion was relevant as “there’s been a springing up of terrorist groups in Libya.”
“There was an imminent threat of danger that these things would fall into terrorist hands. The examples of Syria and Iraq have demonstrated the topical nature of the problem of chemical terrorism for the region,” he said.
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson also noted that by passing the measure, council members have “reduced the risk of these weapons falling into the hands of terrorists and fanatics.”
Libya, which joined the UN convention on eliminating chemical weapons back in 2004, has been dominated by violence since a NATO military intervention followed the 2011 uprising that led to the toppling and killing of longtime dictator, Muammar Gaddafi.
The oil-rich African state has had two rival administrations since mid-2014, when militants overran the capital and forced the parliament to flee to the country’s remote east.
The two governments achieved a consensus on forming a unity government, the GNA, last December after months of UN-brokered talks in Tunisia and Morocco to restore order to the country.
Daesh has taken advantage of the political chaos in Libya to increase its presence there.
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