In his first address to the UN as Britain’s foreign secretary, Boris Johnson on Friday praised a Security Council resolution calling on countries to help Libya dispose of its last remaining chemical weapons stocks by shipping them out of the country.
After raising his hand to join the 14 other council members in unanimously adopting the British-drafted resolution, Johnson cited the threat of chemical weapons falling into the hands of militants as the main reason behind it.
He called on the international community to assist in the destruction of the chemical stocks by providing transport out of the country, expertise and financing.
“This resolution marks the beginning of the end of the Libyan chemical weapons program,” Johnson said. “We have reduced the risk of these weapons falling into the hands of terrorists and fanatics.”
After the speech before the Security Council and a meeting with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Johnson told reporters he “hugely enjoyed” his first week as a diplomat.
“I’ve just been privileged to vote in the UN Security Council, I never thought I’d do that in my life,” Johnson said. “I’ve just voted to take chemical weapons in Libya and put them beyond use.”
Libya in 2004 joined the Chemical Weapons Convention, which requires chemical weapons be destroyed in country. The proposed resolution would grant an exception to Libya similar to one granted for Syria because of its on-going civil war.
The resolution came in response to a Libyan request earlier this week that the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) help it dispose of the chemicals.
When Libya began destroying its chemical weapons stocks in 2004, it declared that it had about 25 tonnes of mustard gas, 1,390 tonnes of precursor chemicals and more than 3,000 bombs containing chemical weapons.
The destruction of chemical weapons was interrupted by the 2011 overthrow of former Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, leaving about 850 tonnes of precursor chemicals stored at a facility monitored by the OPCW in Ruwagha.
Those chemicals were moved to secure location on the Libyan coast to await removal, diplomats said.
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