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Webster Sees Wide Threat in Libya Chemical Plant

From Associated Press

CIA Director William H. Webster said today that Libyan strongman Moammar Kadafi’s chemical weapons plant is so big that he could easily share its output with other radical nations.

“The production capability is far more than Col. Kadafi could ever need or use by any stretch of the imagination,” Webster told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“Is this going to become just another form of currency . . . a brokering capability?” he asked.

Webster also said Libya could have the capacity to target such countries as Israel with chemical weapons if Kadafi’s forces obtain air-to-air refueling capacity for their bombers.

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“It moves it (the chemical weapons threat) off the battlefields and puts it into the cities and strategic areas” of the whole Middle East, he said.

Webster was asked by Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) if elements of the West German armed forces had aided Libyan efforts to obtain air-to-air refueling capability.

Webster said he would prefer to discuss the matter in a closed, non-public session but told Helms, “You’re right on target.”

Webster later declined to elaborate on his comment.

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Kadafi has said the plant was built to produce pharmaceuticals, not chemical weapons. Webster said that even if that is true the facility could be converted to manufacture weapons within a day’s time.

The CIA director did say, as he and other U.S. officials have said before, that West German corporations as well as those from other European and Asian countries have helped Libya acquire a chemical weapons production capability, and that it “would have been virtually impossible” for Libya to do that without such help.


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