Libya to sign IAEA protocol

22 December 2003
Tripoli indicated on 21 December that it would sign an additional International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) protocol, which would allow for snap inspections. The announcement, made by Prime Minister Shukri Ghanem, came two days after Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi said that the country would abandon its weapons of mass destruction programmes. 'We agree to the commitment that we are taking from the IAEA and we are willing to abide by its rules and honor our commitments, whatever those commitments mean,' Ghanem told the BBC. Ghanem's comments followed an earlier statement from Tripoli that said: 'Libya reaffirms its commitment to all conventions, including the addendum protocol to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and declares itself ready to welcome any international inspection mission.' Ghanem indicated that the decision to sign the additional IAEA protocol was driven by Libya's desire for economic progress and the need to attract foreign investment (MEED 7:11:03).

US President Bush said Libya had made a 'wise and responsible choice'. French President Chirac said that the announcement was a 'success for the entire international community'.

The US and the UK said on 21 December that teams intelligence officers had been involved in talks with officials in Libya about the country's weapons programmes since October. During visits to Libya, intelligence staff were shown around sites used in the production of WMD.

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