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Last Updated: Friday, 19 December, 2003, 22:58 GMT
Full transcript: Blair's Libya statement
British Prime Minister Tony Blair
The prime minister announced the news in Durham
This is the text of Prime Minister Tony Blair's statement in Durham, as distributed by 10 Downing Street.

This evening Colonel Gaddafi has confirmed that Libya has in the past sought to develop WMD capabilities, as well as longer range missiles.

Libya came to us in March following successful negotiations on Lockerbie to see if it could resolve its WMD issue in a similarly co-operative manner.

Nine months of work followed with experts from the US and UK, during which the Libyans discussed their programmes with us.

As a result, Libya has now declared its intention to dismantle its weapons of mass destruction completely and to limit the range of Libyan missiles to no greater than 300 kilometres, in accordance with the parameters set by the Missile Technology Control Regime.

Support

The Libyan Government has undertaken that this process will be transparent and verifiable. Libya will immediately adhere to the Chemical Weapons Convention and conclude with the International Atomic Energy Agency an Additional Protocol to its Safeguards Agreement.

We have offered our support to Libya in presenting its programmes to these international bodies and are prepared to offer assistance with dismantlement.

This courageous decision by Colonel Gaddafi is an historic one. I applaud it.

It will make the region and the world more secure. It shows that problems of proliferation can, with good will, be tackled through discussion and engagement, to be followed up by the responsible international agencies.

It demonstrates that countries can abandon programmes voluntarily and peacefully.

The Libyan Government has stated that weapons of mass destruction are not the answer for Libya's defence. No more are they the answers for the region.

Returning diplomacy

Libya's actions entitle it to rejoin the international community.

I have spoken to Colonel Gaddafi to say that, as the process of dismantlement goes forward, I now look forward to developing a productive relationship with him and with Libya.

Today's announcement is a further step in making the world a safer place.

The UK, US and our partners are determined to stop the threat of WMD.

We have played a leading role in the IAEA, with our closest allies, on the issue of Iran and nuclear weapons.

We strongly support the Six Party talks on North Korea. We have enforced Security Council resolutions relating to Iraq.

We have played a leading role in the Proliferation Security Initiative designed to interdict the passage of cargoes which could be used in WMD programmes.

These actions show that we are serious about effective multilateral action against WMD.

And today's decisions show that recent events and political determination are opening up possibilities which just a few years ago would have been unthinkable.

Forging ahead

We must work now to create new partnerships, across geographical and cultural divides, backed by tough international rules and action.

We have identified the security threat of the early 21st century.

It is the combination of terrorism and the development of nuclear or chemical or biological weapons of mass destruction.

September 11 showed the world this new form of terrorism knows no limits to the innocent lives it will take.

WMD are the means by which it could destroy our world's security, and with it our way of life.

Today's announcement shows that we can fight this menace through more than purely military means; that we can defeat it peacefully, if countries are prepared, in good faith, to work with the international community to dismantle such weapons.

Those countries who pursue such a path will find ready partners in the US and in the UK, as Libya will see.

We never have wanted, as our opponents falsely claim, to dominate the world, to wage war on Muslims or Arabs, to interfere with the legitimate rights of sovereign nations.

We have only ever wanted to make peace in our world lasting and stable, built on sure foundations, peace for people of all faiths, all cultures, all nations who desire the good of their citizens and the wider world.

Tonight is a further step on that journey.



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