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Libya Begins Dismantling Chemical Weapons - 2004-02-06

International inspectors have arrived in Libya to begin dismantling the country's chemical weapons capabilities.

Libya signed the Chemical Weapons Convention on Thursday, joining about 180 other countries which have signed the treaty banning chemical weapons since 1993.

As the first step in the disarmament process, Libyan officials handed inspectors a summary of Libya's chemical weapons programs and a description of its stockpiles. Details of Libya's chemical capabilities were not immediately released.

Inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons will now begin assessing and removing chemical weapons materials.

A nuclear disarmament team from the International Atomic Energy Agency is already in Libya, working to dismantle the country's nuclear program.

Late last year, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi vowed to give up all of his country's weapons of mass destruction capabilities, including nuclear, biological and chemical stockpiles. Mr. Gadhafi hopes that by doing so, he can bring an end to economic sanctions that have been in place against Libya since the 1980s.

U.S. and European officials have said they hope Libya's decision to abandon its weapons programs will serve as an example for other countries that have not yet signed the chemical weapons treaty.