European countries wary of Libyan missle threat : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread


LONDON [MENL] -- European Union countries are quietly acknowledging concern over Libya's growing missile threat.

The concern is reportedly being voiced in the current missile defense dialogue between EU members and the United States as well as between European governments.

Western diplomatic and defense sources said the greatest concern is expressed over Libya's medium- and intermediate-range missile programs. Last year, Libya received the first shipment of 50 North Korean No-Dong missiles. The missiles have a range of 1,300 kilometers, which can ensure a strike over most of southern Europe.

"Libya has taken delivery of a consignment of North Korean ballistic missiles capable of hitting targets in Israel and NATO states in southern Europe as well," British shadow defense minister Iain Duncan Smith said.

Smith told a recent lecture to the Washington-based Heritage Foundation that up to 40 countries have missile capability and nearly half possess nuclear, chemical, or biological warheads. Smith cited Syria, which tested its Scud D missile, with a range of nearly 700 kilometers.

The European sources said Libya has several programs meant to strike targets in such countries as Italy and Spain. Tripoli has been developing the Al Fatah missile, with a range of 700 kilometers. Libya has also expressed interest in obtaining technology and components from Iran's Shihab-3 missile.

But the sources said that unlike other countries, such as Iran, Iraq and Syria, Libya has tried to attack a European target. In 1987, Libya fired Scud missiles toward the Italian island of Lampadusa. The missiles did not strike their target.

U.S. defense officials have confirmed the Libyan threat to Europe and said that over the last 18 months many EU members have recognized a missile threat from the Middle East. A State Department report on missiles released on Sept. 7 warned that Europe is under threat from several Middle East countries.

"Iranian and Libyan programs are also a threat to our European and Middle East friends and allies," the report said.

-- Martin Thompson (, September 21, 2001

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