Libya Presses U.S. To End Sanctions * US officials criticize IAEA role
- 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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Do you Yahoo!?
Find out what made the Top Yahoo! Searches of 2003