Denmark contributes to help rid Libya of chemical arms

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) " Denmark is sending a container vessel, a support ship and 200 staff members to an international operation to rid lawless Libya of its chemical weapons arsenal and ship them out of the country, Danish lawmakers decided Friday.

In a 99-0 vote with 80 absentees, Denmark's Folketing legislature decided Friday to send the contribution to the UN-backed Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

The operation would be led by Denmark, but other countries including Finland and Germany are expected to join, according to Denmark's Foreign Ministry.

It said Libya's UN-brokered National Unity government in July handed over a formal request for international assistance to have the chemical weapons removed.

OPCW Director-General Ahmet Uzumcu welcomed the vote saying it "helped Libya to live up to its commitments under the Chemical Weapons Convention" which requires that chemical weapons be destroyed. Libya joined the convention in 2004.

In the same statement, Foreign Minister Kristian Jensen said he was satisfied that the Scandinavian country "got the lead role," adding that the weapons "otherwise risk falling into the wrong hands."

Denmark said it had been asked by the OPCW and the United States to contribute to the operation, dubbed RECLIB.

When Libya began destroying its chemical weapons stocks in 2004, it declared that it had 24.7 tons of mustard gas, 1,390 tons of precursor chemicals and over 3,000 bombs containing chemical weapons. The destruction of chemical weapons was interrupted by the 2011 overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi, leaving some 850 tons of precursor chemicals stored at a facility monitored by the OPCW in Ruwagha.

In 2014, Denmark was part of the international operation to remove and destroy Syria's chemical arsenal.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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