The UK provided RFA Mounts Bay to support the Danish-led maritime operation, escorting a Danish transport ship through the Mediterranean as it carried the chemicals, the Defence Secretary and Foreign Secretary have announced.
Libya’s chemical weapons stockpile was destroyed under international supervision in 2014. However, a quantity of chemicals which could be made into chemical weapons remained in the country. Earlier this year, the Libyan Government of National Accord requested support from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the international community in removing the remaining chemicals from Libya and destroying them safely in a third country.
Following the Libyan request, the UK took up a major role alongside international partners as part of a wider programme of UK support to the OPCW in ensuring these chemicals are safely destroyed and can’t be obtained by terrorists.
The chemicals will be taken to a specialised facility, where they will be destroyed in an environmentally safe and secure way.
Separately, samples of the chemicals have been flown to the UK for analysis by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) at Porton Down – the MOD’s science arm.
As an OPCW Designated Laboratory DSTL has a capability that is respected worldwide for the quality of its work in the defence and security field.
The UK has experience of working with the Danes when dealing with chemical weapons – both countries played a key role in the removal of Syria’s chemical weapons in 2013 and 2014. The UK worked closely with a range of international partners in dealing with these chemicals from Libya, including the USA and Germany as well as the OPCW.