- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 21, 2003

From combined dispatches

Libya will open its nuclear activities to spot inspections by the U.N. atomic agency, a diplomat said yesterday, describing the move as the next logical step in Tripoli’s decision to scrap its programs on weapons of mass destruction.

The decision to accept more obtrusive inspections than those previously announced was made Saturday as a delegation from Libya met with Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

On Friday, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi announced that his country would scrap efforts to build weapons of mass destruction.

Libya acknowledged that it was developing the fuel for nuclear weapons, disclosing a program that was more advanced than previously thought. The North African nation agreed to provide the IAEA with details of its efforts and to comply with the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

During Saturday’s meeting, the Libyan delegation agreed to sign an additional protocol to the treaty, giving the IAEA a strong mandate for wide-ranging inspections on short notice of most aspects of the country’s nuclear activities.

“It was a logical move on the part of Libya, if it wanted to show it was serious about being open about its [nuclear] programs,” the diplomat said on condition of anonymity.

In announcing the Libya deal on Friday, President Bush invoked the Iraq war that brought down Saddam Hussein as he issued a flat warning of “unwelcome consequences” for countries that do not follow Libya’s lead.

White House officials promoted the announcement as vindicating Mr. Bush’s decision to go to war against Saddam.

Yesterday, British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon said the fate of Saddam helped persuade Libya to respond to diplomatic overtures to scrap its weapons program and allow in international monitors.

“It shows that the policy of engagement can work, but it also shows that that policy has to be backed with the threat or, if necessary, the use of force to be successful,” Mr. Hoon told Sky News.

“I don’t think you can separate out the relevance of military action in Iraq from the decision the Libyans have taken,” he added.

“We showed, after Saddam Hussein had failed to cooperate with the U.N., that we meant business, and Libya — and I hope other countries — will draw that lesson.”

British diplomacy played a key role both in Col. Gadhafi’s announcement and in Iran’s agreement in November to open its nuclear facilities to outside inspectors. The United States and other nations accuse Iran of hiding efforts to make nuclear weapons, which Tehran denies.

Col. Gadhafi’s decision to come clean about clandestine nuclear activities is the latest in a series of moves intended to end his country’s international isolation and shed its reputation as a rogue nation.

Although U.S. sanctions remain in force, the U.N. Security Council voted in September to abolish its 1992 sanctions on Libya, after Tripoli agreed to compensate families of the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am jet over Lockerbie, Scotland.

Yesterday, at an Arlington National Cemetery memorial marking the 15th anniversary of the attack, relatives of those killed said they were not satisfied with Libya’s cooperation in spite of the hopeful developments.

“We’ve made huge progress, including some of the recent announcements, and we should celebrate, but we should not let up the fight,” said Larry Fisher, whose brother, Charles Fisher IV, was among those killed on Flight 103. “Libya’s acceptance of responsibility but denying guilt falls far short of justice.”

Federal Aviation Administration chief Marion Blakey, representing Mr. Bush, credited the Lockerbie families with pressing Libya to accept responsibility for the bombing.

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