Boris Johnson calls for UN help destroying Libya chemicals

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — In his first address to the United Nations as Britain’s foreign secretary, Boris Johnson 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.

Boris Johnson cited the threat of chemical weapons falling into the hands of extremists as the main reason behind the British-drafted resolution calling on the international community to assist in their destruction by providing transport out of the country, expertise and financing.

“This resolution marks the beginning of the end of the Libyan chemical weapons program. We have reduced the risk of these weapons falling into the hands of terrorists and fanatics,” Johnson said, following Friday’s vote where the resolution was adopted unanimously by the 15-member Security Council.

Following his speech before the Security Council and a meeting with 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 U.N. Security Council, I never thought I’d do that in my life. I’ve just voted to take chemical weapons in Libya and put them beyond use,” Johnson said.

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 the on-going civil war.

The resolution comes in response to a Libyan request earlier this week that the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) help them dispose of the chemicals.

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. Over the weekend, those chemicals were moved to secure location on the Libyan coast to await removal, diplomats said.