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Wednesday, 8 May, 2002, 13:58 GMT 14:58 UK
Libya denies claims of chemical weapons
Muammar Gaddafi
Gaddafi has long been at odds with the US
Libya said on Wednesday it is not developing chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, denying allegations made by a US official.

"Everybody knows that Libya does not seek to acquire weapons of mass destruction," foreign ministry spokesman Hassouna Shaoush said.

"Libya had signed all accords and international treaties to ban such weapons," he added.

He called the US allegations a form of "terrorism".
US Undersecretary of State John Bolton
John Bolton says Libya remains a rogue state

Mr Shaoush was responding to remarks made by US Undersecretary of State John Bolton on Monday, who said Libya, Syria and Cuba were seeking to develop weapons of mass destruction.

Mr Bolton accused Libya of trying to re-establish its "offensive chemical weapons ability".

He also said the country "may be capable of producing small quantities of biological agent" and was still seeking nuclear weapons.

Mr Shaoush demanded proof from the US.

"We defy this American official to show any document to back his allegations on Libya's possession of such weapons or its intent to acquire them," he said.

'Axis of evil'

The denial suggests the latest accusation has stung Libya, which has seen its relations with the West, and Washington, thaw somewhat in recent months.

Libyan officials were reportedly pleased their country had avoided inclusion in President George W Bush's "axis of evil" of North Korea, Iran and Iraq.

But Mr Bolton has effectively added Libya to this list with these remarks, made in a speech entitled "Beyond the Axis of Evil."

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has long been at odds with the US, which accuses him of sponsoring terrorism.

But Colonel Gaddafi surprised many Arabs when he became one of the first Arab leaders to condemn the 11 September attacks

He also supported Washington's right to respond to the suicide place attacks with military force.

Double standard

Mr. Shaoush accused the US of having a double standard on weapons of mass destruction.

Libya and other Arab states accuse Israel of also seeking chemical and nuclear weapons, and avoiding US scrutiny.

"The American position does not stem from seeking the truth about weapons of mass destruction or other arms," Mr Shaoush said.

"If it were so, why we did not hear from this American official any word about the arsenal of chemical and nuclear weapons Israel had acquired?"

See also:

06 May 02 | Americas
14 Mar 02 | Middle East
08 Feb 02 | Country profiles
Links to more Middle East stories are at the foot of the page.


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