Libya has turned over 14 file cartons of documents, disclosing its chemical weapons programs to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. This is, of course, part of the process of “coming clean” that was encouraged by the Iraq war. Libya’s disclosures are startling:
Libya acknowledged stockpiling 44,000 pounds of mustard gas and disclosed the location of a production plant….Libya also declared thousands of tons of precursors that could be used to make sarin nerve gas, and two storage facilities.
A representative of the OPCW said that he considered Libya’s disclosures to be “complete and comprehensive.” Destruction of Libya’s chemical weapons has already begun, with 3,300 bombs designed specifically to carry chemical payloads having been dismantled and destroyed last week.
Libya is also cooperating with inspectors from the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency to eliminate its nuclear weapons programs.
This highlights a very important point about the weapons inspections that went on in Iraq prior to the war. It was frequently pointed out by United Nations authorities at that time, that the U.N. inspectors were never intended to be detectives. The procedure for weapons inspections was designed to help a cooperative government identify and safely dispose of weapons. It was never designed to somehow outsmart a government that was trying to hide weapons programs from the inspectors. And, as every U.N. report on Iraq plainly stated, Saddam’s regime was not cooperative, not forthcoming, and not honest in its dealings with the inspectors.
In Libya, we see the weapons inspection process as it was intended to occur, but in Iraq, never could have taken place.