The Obama administration has days or weeks to ensure that Libya’s chemical weapons and its shoulder-fired missiles – which can take down commercial airliners – do not fall into the hands of terrorists, according to Rep. Mike Rogers (R) of Michigan, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee.
Chairman Rogers, an early supporter of US enforcement of a no-fly zone in Libya, has said that the temptation to sell such weapons could produce a “black market bonanza” in Qaddafi’s last days or during a transition to a new regime. Over the next 48 hours to two weeks, “We’d better be very, very aggressive … about securing these weapon systems,” he said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Tuesday.
State Department spokeswoman Ms. Nuland told reporters on Thursday that the remaining elements of Libya’s nuclear program are secure. “The last of the highly enriched uranium, the bomb-making fuel, was removed from Libya in 2009,” she said.
Libya’s supply of yellowcake uranium is at the Tajura nuclear research facility. “We are able, through our national technical means, to assert that we believe that it is secure,” she added. Such "technical means" often refer to satellite surveillance. Supplies of mustard gas, contained in a heavy bunker, are also monitored.
While the US and TNC have been working together on securing shoulder-fired missiles, known as Man Portable Air Defense System (ManPADs), it’s not clear how significant a problem it is.
“There’s been a lot of fear-mongering reporting about the missiles and other things,” Nuland said. “I cannot from here today size the ManPAD problem, because I don’t think anybody knows.”
"We’ve been working with all of the neighbors on any ManPADs that might have been proliferated or could be proliferated,” she added. “The TNC wants to continue this work with us.”