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UN Watchdog: Libya's Chemical Weapons Secure


A Libyan rebel walks past crates of antitank weapons in a munitions storage hanger at a government military base in Ajdabiyah in March.

A Libyan rebel walks past crates of antitank weapons in a munitions storage hanger at a government military base in Ajdabiyah in March.

The head of a UN watchdog says that Libya's remaining chemical-weapon stockpiles are believed to be secure, despite the instability in country since February.

Ahmet Uzumcu, director-general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, said in The Hague that his inspectors were ready to return to Libya to oversee the destruction of Muammar Qaddafi's poison-gas supplies as soon as conditions would allow it.

Uzumcu said he had information that "remaining stockpiles of chemical weapons are secured." He did not elaborate.

The organization had inspectors in Libya up until February verifying the destruction process, but they left as the anti-Qaddafi rebellion gathered intensity.

Confusion surrounds the whereabouts of the deposed ruler, with interim officials saying Qaddafi could either be in his hometown of Sirte, or in neighboring Niger.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told a news briefing in Washington that Libya's neighbors should arrest and disarm Qaddafi loyalists if they attempted to cross the border.

"We're calling on all of these countries to make every effort to control their borders, to detain any Qaddafi regime officials, to confiscate contraband, any illegal weapons, and disarm them, and also to confiscate any wealth that might properly belong to the Libyan people," Nuland said.

Niger's justice minister, Marou Amadou, has reiterated that Qaddafi was not in his country.

An armed convoy of Qaddafi loyalists, including his former intelligence chief, Mansour Dao, reached Niger's capital, Niamey, on September 6.

compiled from agency reports

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