Libya's cache of toxic arms now destroyed

The United States and Libya in the past three months have discreetly destroyed what both sides say were the last remnants of Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi’s lethal arsenal of chemical arms. They used a transportable oven technology to destroy hundreds of bombs and artillery rounds filled with deadly mustard agent, which American officials had feared could fall into the hands of terrorists. The effort also helped inspire the use of the technology in the much bigger disposal plan in Syria…

“It’s a big breakthrough,” said Paul F. Walker, an arms control expert with the environmental group Green Cross International who has helped in efforts to demilitarize the American and Russian chemical weapons stockpiles since the 1990s. “Even though Libya’s chemical stockpile was relatively small, the effort to destroy it was very difficult because of weather, geography and because it’s a dangerous area with warring tribes, increasing the risks of theft and diversion,” he said.

Libya’s last two tons of chemical weapons were dwarfed by the 1,300 tons that Syria has agreed to destroy. But American and international arms experts say the need for easily transportable and efficient technology to wipe out the Libyan arms became a model for the Syria program now underway.