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Diplomacy in Action

66. Assistant Secretary of State Paula DeSutter's testimony re cooperation in Libyan dismantlement efforts (September 22, 2004)


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Testimony of Paula A. DeSutter
Assistant Secretary of State for Verification and Compliance

Hearing Before the Subcommittee on International Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Human Rights
Committee on International Relations
U.S. House of Representatives

September 22, 2004


Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, it is my pleasure to announce to you today on behalf of the administration that our verification work in Libya is essentially complete. Our final team left Tripoli on Monday, September 20. We now have in place a consultative process reflected in the creation of the Trilateral Steering and Cooperation Committee.

Because of Libya's success in eliminating its WMD [weapons of mass destruction] and MTCR-class [Missile Technology Control Regime] missile programs, the president announced on Monday [September 20] that the United States was withdrawing certain sanctions against Libya, including terminating the national emergency imposed in 1986. The president's actions essentially ended economic sanctions against Libya, and resulted in the release of frozen assets in excess of $1 billion. Another important part of the president's actions includes waiving certain statutory provisions so that American business in Libya can play on a more level playing field.

The U.S. will continue its dialogue with Libya on human rights, as well as economic and political modernization. We expect Libya to free political prisoners and start a new path of freedom for all Libyans, regardless of their political beliefs. We share the European Community's concerns over the plight of the Bulgarian medics. In addition, we remain seriously concerned by allegations of Libyan involvement in a plot to assassinate Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, and these concerns have been raised with the Libyan government. These concerns must be addressed. None of this week's actions change Libya's status as a State Sponsor of Terrorism.

It is, however, important that we recognize the momentous changes taken by Libya in dismantling its WMD and long-range missile programs. It could not have been an easy decision to abandon weapons programs in which it had invested untold amounts of money. It could not have been an easy decision for Libya to seek new ways to ensure its security. And it could not have been easy for Libya to voluntarily open up their most sensitive facilities and buildings to international organizations, as well as to us, and our British partners. But they did all these things.

Our goal from the beginning was to assist the Libyans, as partners, in meeting their December 19, 2003, commitments and to verify that they had fulfilled that promise. To accomplish this, we set up three phases for our work. Each of the phases included a group of U.S. and British experts going to Libya, talking to Libyan officials, visiting sites, working together to understand their WMD and missile programs, and determining ways to dismantle these programs. We also kept the international community informed of our progress.

The first phase involved removing some of the key material that was of greatest proliferation risk on a priority basis, identifying the scope of the programs, and assisting the Libyans in their treaty and safeguards-mandated interactions with the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] and the OPCW [Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons]. In January [2004] we removed nuclear weapons design documents, uranium hexafluoride (UF6), and key centrifuges and equipment, including material from the Khan network. On the missile front, we received a detailed description of a range of Libyan missile research and development activities, and removed parts from Libya's SCUD-C missiles to make them inoperable.

Phase II was focused on removing or eliminating the remaining elements of Libya's programs at Libya's request. Our teams removed a large amount of material and equipment from the nuclear and missile programs. During this phase, the Libyans destroyed over 3,000 chemical munitions and consolidated and secured their stocks of chemical weapons agent and precursors for destruction. The logistics of this effort were daunting, and this would not have been possible without the flexibility and speed of implementation permitted by the Nonproliferation and Disarmament Fund. As part of this effort, we managed to remove over 1,000 metric tons of nuclear equipment, SCUD-C missiles, their launchers, and other equipment by ship. In addition, we arranged the removal of more than 15 kilograms of fresh high-enriched uranium reactor fuel to Russia.

Phase III was primarily a verification phase. In some ways this was the hardest part of the effort. Our goal was to speak with many of the Libyans who were responsible for their WMD and missile programs. We wanted to better understand the extent of those programs, and the procurement network supporting them. Ultimately, we needed to determine whether Libya had truly eliminated its WMD programs. As it had in the previous visits, Libya cooperated in providing full access to people and facilities. Importantly, we also received an assurance from Libya that it would cut off trade in military goods and services with countries of proliferation concern -- for example Syria, Iran, and North Korea.

Verification is not a science, and no verification determination can be absolutely certain. But what we can say, and what I am saying with regard to Libya, is that we have verified with reasonable certainty that Libya has eliminated, or has set in place the elimination of all its WMD and MTCR-class missile programs.

During this entire effort, we visited scores of declared or suspected sites. We interviewed dozens of scientists, technicians and Libyan government officials regarding their involvement in these programs. We have received and are still reviewing thousands of pages of documents.

But perhaps the greatest proof of Libya's strategic commitment lies in Libya's elimination by removal of its once dangerous nuclear program and its most sophisticated missiles, and in the chemical munitions destroyed in Libya.

Some work remains. Some dismantlement cannot be done overnight. Libya has collected its stockpile of chemical agent and precursors and is preparing to destroy them safely, with our help and with the cooperation of the OPCW. That effort will take some time to complete. Libya has begun the process at the OPCW to seek approval to convert its former chemical weapons production facility at Rabta to produce pharmaceutical products. We support this effort, and are working with the OPCW to that end. It would be a symbol of the "sea change" that Libya has undergone that Rabta, long a symbol of Libya's dark designs, might someday be producing life-saving drugs for the people of Libya and the African continent.

Libya ended its emerging SCUD-C missile program, and has agreed to destroy its SCUD-B missiles.

To resolve these and any additional issues that arise, Libya, the United Kingdom and the United States have established a Trilateral Steering and Cooperation Committee that will meet to discuss those issues and facilitate Libya's further implementation of its commitments. In practice, this committee has been in place for some time. On behalf of the United States, Under Secretary of State [for Arms Control and International Security] John Bolton has been meeting and talking with his counterparts from the United Kingdom and Libya, and Under Secretary Bolton will lead this process for the United States.

President Bush said on December 19, 2003, that as Libya eliminates its WMD programs and cooperates with us in the war on terrorism, that its good faith would be returned. The Libyans have acted in good faith in eliminating their WMD and MTCR-class missile programs, and we have reciprocated. In response to each phase of the elimination effort, we have made moves to improve our relations with Libya. After the completion of Phase I we lifted travel restrictions, permitted travel-related expenditures in Libya, and allowed U.S. firms with pre-sanctions holdings to negotiate contracts for their re-entry. After Phase II we terminated the Iran/Libya Sanctions Act with respect to Libya, issued a general license for trade and investment, and upgraded our diplomatic relationship to a Liaison Office from an Interests Section. And now that Phase III is completed we are lifting the national emergency, essentially ending economic sanctions, including unfreezing Libyan assets and permitting aviation trade. In adopting a policy of using waivers to provide commercial assistance to U.S. firms in Libya, the administration has sent a clear signal of improved bilateral relations.

I have been involved in verification for a long time, and the opportunity presented by Libya's decision is unique. This is one of those rare times that a state has volunteered to rid itself of its WMD programs -- and it is a first for a state sponsor of terror to do so without regime change. We must do our best to ensure that Libya's voluntary decision stands as a model for others as a pathway to restore themselves to international legitimacy.

The results of Libya's decision are truly breathtaking. I would not have thought it possible 10 months ago that all significant components of Libya's nuclear program would be in Tennessee -- or elsewhere outside the country -- rather than in Tripoli. All this is only possible because of the strategic commitment by Libya to rid itself of WMD and long-range missiles.

It is even more significant that Libya's commitment was not made with preconditions. There was no freeze proposal, no attempts at concealment or delaying tactics as we see in North Korea and Iran, no deals other than a mutual commitment to act in good faith. The United States and the United Kingdom insisted on the application of verification measures that met -- and indeed went beyond -- international standards, and could give the international community confidence. Libya's agreement was proof of its sincerity to rid itself of its WMD programs.

The reasons for this decision are many. Of course, Libya's desire to rejoin the international community and the world of international commerce was an important factor. But this has been true for many years. I believe it is the Bush administration's multifaceted attack on the proliferation of WMD that is having a real impact on the unraveling of the shady and dangerous international WMD black market.

It was clear to Colonel Qadhafi that we were willing to use all the tools at our disposal to stem the flow of WMD. Ongoing international diplomacy, coupled with economic sanctions, isolated Libya and were having a significant impact on Libya's international status and economy. The Bush administration's relentless pursuit of the WMD black market exposed Libya's and others' WMD programs, and diminished their chances of success. It is also indisputable that the example of Iraq was there for all to see. The timing is instructive. In March 2003, as we were getting ready to invade Iraq, the Libyans made their first overtures, but fell short of admitting their nuclear weapons program. In October, after we and our allies in the Proliferation Security Initiative seized a nuclear-related equipment shipment headed for Tripoli, Libya permitted the first Americans into the country and made the admissions that ultimately ended their programs.

What has this meant for Libya and, more importantly, the people of Libya? The benefits have not just been in the abstract. They are direct and are being implemented now. In response to its actions, Libya has seen the tangible benefits that better relations with the United States can bring. We are no longer enforcing some of the most important sanctions against Libya, including travel restrictions, trade in oil and other important industries. U.S. government officials have noticed that formerly empty hotels in Tripoli are teeming with Western businessmen. The United States has opened a Liaison Office in Tripoli, and Libya has opened an Interests Section in Washington. Libya participates in international meetings like those held by the OPCW and the IAEA -- not as a pariah nation, but as a partner in the laudable goals of these organizations. Libya's recent help to the World Food Program efforts in Darfur, Sudan, shows that it is trying to rejoin the world community in a positive way.

We have sent doctors and scientist redirection experts to assist the Libyans in their efforts to modernize and redirect the scientific and health care fields, shifting their efforts from WMD to more productive activities with the full support of the international community. It is our hope that cooperation on education, health care and scientific training can build the foundation for security and prosperity for all Libyans.

What bears mentioning, though, is that the United States and the United Kingdom did not offer specific promises or rewards to the Libyans. Libya acted, once it realized of its own accord that ridding itself of WMD, rather than pursuing it, offered the best enhancement to Libyan security and future prosperity. For our part, we held out the most attractive incentive available: the ability to naturally reap the benefits that come from participating fully in the community of nations. By ending its pariah status, Libya is no longer shunned by the outside world. Economic and security benefits have been the natural and inevitable result.

Our approach to rogue states and their pursuit of WMD was best enunciated by President Bush in February:

"Abandoning the pursuit of illegal weapons can lead to better relations with the United States, and other free nations. Continuing to seek those weapons will not bring security or international prestige, but only political isolation, economic hardship, and other unwelcome consequences."

The United States, the United Kingdom, and Libya have worked together as a team to eliminate Libya's WMD programs, and to begin the process of improving relations between Washington and Tripoli. We only hope that states with even more worrisome nuclear weapons programs, such as Iran and North Korea, will learn from Libya's positive example and agree to rejoin the community of civilized nations by giving up these terrible weapons that do nothing except undermine their own stability.

 



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