Options exist for ensuring security that don't include "big boots on
the ground," Rogers said, adding that securing Qaddafi's remaining
anti-aircraft weapons systems must be a joint effort by the rebels,
NATO, and the United States. "We shouldn't be bashful in saying, 'Look,
we may have to put some of our American people through diplomatic means
and others to make sure that those weapons systems don't start walking
Even McCain, one of the most
outspoken advocates of American military intervention in Libya, said he
would not consider supporting an international peacekeeping force or
foreign boots on the ground unless the rebels asked for it.
Years after Qaddafi signed a treaty banning chemical weapons, Libya
still has about 11.5 metric tons - or more than 25,000 pounds--of mustard
gas stockpiled in the country, according to Michael Luhan, a spokesman
for the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. In 2004
Tripoli destroyed -- with bulldozers -- thousands of munitions that
could be used to deliver the mustard agent, Luhan said.
Libya destroyed just over half its stockpile of mustard gas within a
year, but the security situation at the start of the protests in
February made it impossible for the inspectors to finish the job, Luhan
said. The OPCW inspectors won't be able to continue their work -- or
even have direct contact with the rebels -- until the United Nations
officially recognizes the Libyan rebel council.
"We are having a number of informal discussions and consultations
with a variety of actors who are engaged in one way or another in the
situation in Libya, so that when the time comes for us to move, we will
be prepared for that," Luhan said in a telephone interview from the
Even though the inspectors sealed the depot containing the vats of
mustard agents and sealed the destruction facility, Luhan said, OPCW has
no way of knowing if the security has been compromised until its
staff members can get back in the country.
"There should be no doubt that U.S. and NATO security officials have
been keeping a close eye on Libya's chemical-weapons stockpiles during
this crisis," a U.S. official said in an e-mail to National Journal.
"Especially during this tumultuous time, maintaining vigilance on this
issue is a priority. The stockpiles at this point appear to be well
guarded. It's worth keeping in mind that Qaddafi did in fact destroy
many of his most dangerous weapons, and that much of what remains is
outdated or difficult to make operational."
As the rebels storm Qaddafi's compound and take over the streets of
Tripoli, the strongman's four-decade rule never looked so precarious.
The rebels' recently accredited ambassador to Washington, Ali Suleiman
Aujali, said they are concerned about the remaining weapons - but more
concerned about the arms still under Qaddafi's control. "Qaddafi's
people are still hanging around; they still have these weapons; they're
killing people randomly -- this is a problem," Aujali told National Journal. "As long as Qaddafi is hiding, this is a great concern."
In Benghazi on Monday, Transitional National Council leader Mustafa
Abdel Jalil called on the rebels to refrain from looting and acts of
"revenge," as fighting intensifies in what he called the final stages
of ousting Qaddafi. The rebel fighters, Jalil said, "will put down
their arms as soon as this conflict ends, and they will go back to
being productive civilians."