Bush, Blair: Libya to dismantle WMD programs
Gadhafi vows 'transparent and verifiable' process, Blair says
President Bush says Col. Moammar Gadhafi has agreed to let international weapons inspectors enter Libya.
President Bush announces that Libya has agreed to dismantle its weapons of mass destruction.
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Libya has tried to develop weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles in the past, but has agreed to dismantle the programs, President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Friday in simultaneous televised speeches.
Bush said Libya's leader, Col. Moammar Gadhafi, had "agreed to immediately and unconditionally allow inspectors from international organizations to enter Libya.
"These inspectors will render an accounting of all nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs and will help oversee their elimination," Bush said.
Libya's nuclear weapons program was "much further advanced" than U.S. and British intelligence had thought, and included centrifuges and a uranium enrichment program, all necessary components in making a nuclear bomb, a senior administration official said Friday. (Full story)
Hans Blix, the former chief U.N. weapons inspector, said Saturday Libya's decision to dismantle its weapons of mass destruction, is "welcome" and surmised the action might have been spurred by Gadhafi's fear over "what he saw happen in Iraq." (Full story)
"I think we have to learn what did they (Libya) have. They say that they will adhere to the Non-Proliferation Treaty for nuclear weapons. They are already party to that treaty and they have had inspections for years," said Blix, interviewed in Sweden.
In a televised address from London, England, Blair said Gadhafi had approached British and U.S. officials in March to see if they could resolve the issue of its weapons programs.
"Libya has stated that weapons of mass destruction are not the answer for Libya's defense," Blair said. "Libya's actions entitle it to rejoin the international community.
"Libya has declared its intention to dismantle its weapons of mass destruction and to limit the range of Libyan missiles to no greater than 300 kilometers," Blair said, adding that the Libyan leader has agreed "that this process will be transparent and verifiable."
Libya also agreed to adhere to international agreements on chemical weapons and sign an additional protocol with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the nuclear watchdog group.
"This decision by Colonel Gadhafi is an historic one and a courageous one, and I applaud it," Blair said. "It will make the region and the world more secure."
He added, "It demonstrates, too, that countries can abandon programs voluntarily and peacefully."
CIA and British intelligence officials met with Gadhafi and other senior Libyan officials as the three governments negotiated the deal under which the Libyan government would give up its weapons of mass destruction programs, U.S. officials said. CIA officials also visited key sites in Libya during a nine-month period of negotiations that started with meetings in various European capitals.
U.S. officials say Libya has a program to develop a nuclear weapon, including facilities to process and enrich uranium. It has a stockpile of chemical weapons and dual-use facilities that could be used to create biological weapons. The Libyans say they no longer have programs to produce chemical or biological weapons. They have a largely dormant program to develop medium-range missiles based on Scud technology.
According to Jane's, a defense publication based in London, U.S. intelligence officials believed China was helping Libya develop its existing Al-Fatah missile program and that the Libyans were also seeking North Korean long-range missile technology.
"Opposing proliferation is one of the highest targets of the war on terror," Bush said. "The attacks of September 11th, 2001 brought tragedy to the United States and revealed a future threat of even greater magnitude. Terrorists who kill thousands of innocent people would, if they ever gained weapons of mass destruction, kill hundreds of thousands, without hesitation and without mercy."
He added: "Colonel Gadhafi's commitment, once it is fulfilled, will make our country more safe and the world more peaceful."
Bush said U.S. pressure on North Korea and Iran and the war in Iraq "have sent an unmistakable message to regimes that seek or possess weapons of mass destruction: Those weapons do not bring influence or prestige. They bring isolation and otherwise unwelcome consequences.
"Another message should be equally clear: Leaders who abandon the pursuit of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them will find an open path to better relations with the United States and other free nations."
He said Libya's decision would help lift it out of its isolation.
"With today's announcement by its leader, Libya has begun the process of rejoining the community of nations," Bush said. "Colonel Gadhafi knows the way forward: Libya should carry out the commitments announced today. Libya should also fully engage in the war against terror."
This summer, Libya took responsibility for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988, which killed 259 people aboard the plane and 11 on the ground.
As part of that deal, Libya agreed to pay each family as much as $10 million -- $4 million when the United Nations lifted sanctions. The U.N. Security Council voted in September to remove the sanctions. U.S. sanctions have remained in place.
Bush also urged Libya to pursue internal reform. However, he warned that "because Libya has a troubled history with America and Britain, we'll be vigilant in assuring its government lives up to all its responsibilities.
"Yet ... old hostilities do not need to go on forever," Bush said. "I hope that other leaders will find an example in Libya's announcement today."