Inspectors may soon return to Libya for mustard gas destruction

International health inspectors may soon return to Libya to supervise the destruction of that country’s stockpiles of mustard gas that began almost a year ago.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons may announce as early as next week that it will resume the monitoring mission it halted in Libya due to a malfunction at a destruction facility in February, approximately the same time the rebellion broke out, according to

“We should have something to announce next week on this,” Michael Luhan, a spokesman for the organization, said, reports. “We’re consulting regularly on arrangements to enable the return of our inspectors to Libya.”

The United States is concerned about the security of the remaining stockpiles. U.S. President Barack Obama raised the issue with National Transitional Council Chairman Mustafa Abel Jalil in September.

Libya currently holds 11.3 metric tons of mustard agent and 845 metric tons of chemical precursors. The weapons are currently stored in non-weaponized states in steel containers located in secure bunkers in remote areas inside the country, according to the White House.

U.S. officials are currently working with Libya and the OPCW to get inspectors back inside Libya to take inventory and fully secure the sites.

The OPCW, which oversees an international treaty banning the use and stockpiling of chemical weapons, has been involved in Libya since it signed the agreement in 2004. Its inspectors were working to verify Libya’s official accounting of the destruction process when they initially left the country.