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Libya Presses U.S. To End Sanctions * US officials criticize IAEA role

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  • MewNews Editor
    New York Times January 2, 2004 Libya Presses U.S. To Move Quickly To End Sanctions By Patrick E. Tyler TRIPOLI, Libya, Jan. 1 - Libya s prime minister said
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 2, 2004
      New York Times
      January 2, 2004
      Libya Presses U.S. To Move Quickly To End Sanctions
      By Patrick E. Tyler

      TRIPOLI, Libya, Jan. 1 - Libya's prime minister said
      Thursday that the United States should act quickly to
      reward his country for abandoning its secret weapons
      programs. He warned that unless the United States
      lifted sanctions by May 12, Libya would not be bound
      to pay the remaining $6 million promised to each
      family of victims killed on Pan Am Flight 103.

      The prime minister, Shukri Ghanim, in an interview,
      said that any decision by the Bush administration was
      strictly an "internal matter" for the United States,
      but that the deadlines and their consequences, made
      clear in the settlement with the Lockerbie families,
      were well known to all parties, including senior
      administration officials.

      A quick lifting of American sanctions would allow
      American oil companies to return here this spring and
      pave the way for unfreezing $1 billion in assets that
      Libyan officials say are languishing in American
      banks.

      Mr. Ghanim said his country would like to "accelerate
      to the maximum" the dismantling of its nuclear,
      chemical and biological weapons programs so that
      President Bush would be able to tell Congress in the
      next few months that the Libyan leader, Col. Muammar
      el-Qaddafi, had fully and transparently destroyed or
      surrendered all his illicit weapons.

      In Washington, a State Department spokesman said he
      could not comment on the Libyan prime minister's
      comments, but quoting Mr. Bush in December, he said
      that Libya's recent agreement to dismantle its banned
      weapons and compensate Lockerbie bombing victims
      opened the door to the possibility of improving
      relations, including the lifting of sanctions.

      "We have indicated to the Libyans that we are prepared
      to talk about the remaining bilateral sanctions that
      apply," he said.

      Last month, when Libya agreed to dismantle its weapons
      program, administration officials said American
      sanctions would not be lifted until Libya began to
      implement its pledge and took further unspecified
      actions leading to its no longer being identified as a
      state that sponsors terrorism.

      The families of the 270 people killed when Libyan
      terrorists blew up the jet over Lockerbie, Scotland,
      have been paid $4 million each under the agreement
      signed last September that led the United Nations to
      lift its sanctions. In the settlement, Libya insisted
      on a stipulation that the families would not receive
      the full $10 million pledged unless the United States
      lifted sanctions and removed Libya from the list of
      states supporting terrorism within eight months. After
      May 12, the funds in escrow would be returned to the
      Libyan government, Libyan and Western officials said.

      "The agreement says that eight months after the
      signing, if American sanctions are not removed, then
      the additional $6 million for each family of victims
      will not be paid," Mr. Ghanim said. "So of course," he
      said, referring to a lifting of sanctions, "this would
      be for the good of the families of the victims, but we
      will leave this to the decision of the Americans."

      By raising the prospect of a deadline that, if broken,
      would deprive Lockerbie families of more than half the
      compensation they were promised, Mr. Ghanim injected a
      note of both urgency and political pressure into the
      immediate steps ahead.

      He said publicly for the first time on Thursday that
      Libya would like to be paid for turning over certain
      nuclear materials, just as he understands some former
      Soviet states have been compensated for cooperating
      with such removals.

      The prime minister, a leading reformer among Colonel
      Qaddafi's advisers, spoke in his large new office near
      the palm-studded waterfront of Tripoli's ancient
      harbor. A large portrait of Colonel Qaddafi looks out
      over the carpeted expanse of his work area. Mr.
      Ghanim, 61, spoke in the English that he perfected in
      the Boston area while he completed doctoral studies at
      The Fletcher School at Tufts University.

      The prime minister's emphasis on the timing for an
      American response to Colonel Qaddafi's proclamation on
      Dec. 10 is the first indication that a deadline for an
      American response is hanging over the complicated
      process of dismantling the Libyan arsenal. It comes at
      a time when some senior Bush administration officials
      have questioned the ability of the International
      Atomic Energy Agency led by Mohamed ElBaradei to
      supervise the removal or destruction of Libyan
      weapons.

      The prime minister said that as far as Libya was
      concerned, Dr. ElBaradei was in charge of the
      disarmament process, along with the Organization for
      the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. A senior Bush
      administration official, however, said that American
      and British intelligence officials, plus nuclear
      experts from the Pentagon, the Department of Energy
      and American nuclear laboratories, would arrive here
      this month to effectively take charge of the
      disarmament.

      The senior official characterized Dr. ElBaradei's
      visit here this week as a "badly advised" public
      relations exercise at a time when the United States
      Central Intelligence Agency and Britain's MI6 spy
      agency were developing strong bonds with Libya's
      military and intelligence chiefs.

      "We want to have more conversations in private with
      the Libyans before doing anything in public," the
      senior official said this week.

      "Libya itself is looking for help from the United
      States to make its declaration" to the chemical
      weapons agency, "and our teams of people from the
      Defense Threat Reduction Agency, the Department of
      Energy and the national labs are going to help the
      Libyans do the bulk of the work," the official added.

      "ElBaradei has got a minuscule percentage of the
      knowledge" about the full assortment of Libya's
      illicit weapons programs, the official said, and,
      therefore, "he has a role, but only with the technical
      aspects" of verifying the dismantling of the Libyan
      nuclear program.

      A six-member team of nuclear inspectors Dr. ElBaradei
      left behind declined to comment on their role. They
      left the country Thursday.

      One Western ambassador here called the dispute over
      who is in charge "unhelpful," but it remains unclear
      how the disarmament will proceed, officials said.

      One Western official pointed out that while Dr.
      ElBaradei's group was responsible for nuclear
      weapons-related material, chemical weapons removal
      falls under a different treaty organization, and no
      international body has clearcut jurisdiction over
      Libya's long-range missiles and biological weapons.

      A large amount of chemical precursors and lethal
      chemical agents will have to be destroyed, officials
      said, but it was not immediately clear where they
      would be shipped for destruction.

      Western diplomats here confirmed that the May 12
      deadline was a prominent feature of the negotiations
      along with a Libyan expectation that Washington would
      be honor bound to reward Colonel Qaddafi not only for
      his declaration, but also for the steps he is taking
      to allow American, British and United Nations
      inspectors to effectively assume authority over his
      secret weapons programs.

      "As the Libyan government takes these essential steps
      and demonstrates its seriousness, its good faith will
      be returned," Mr. Bush said on Dec. 19. "Libya can
      regain a secure and respected place among the nations,
      and over time achieve far better relations with the
      United States."

      Libya's expectation for quick action could complicate
      the Bush administration's plans, Western officials
      here said. On the one hand, Washington is seeking to
      reward Colonel Qaddafi for surrendering his programs
      to develop illegal weapons, but on the other hand the
      administration must verify that all the weapons are
      accounted for under a monitoring program that will
      allow continuous access to any suspect site.



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