. . . Libya has taken the initiative and has instigated among the countries of the world, especially the Middle East,Africa,and the Third World,the abandonment o f WMD programmes . . .
Colonel Qadhafi’s dramatic change of policy should be viewed in the wider context of his decision in the late 1990s to move towards rapprochement with the West through, among other things, an attempt to resolve the Lockerbie issue. Much of Colonel Qadhafi’s motivation for this rapprochement was economic. He recognised that he needed western, and especially US, investment in Libya’s economy. The UK was important to him because it offered the best route to the US.
It is a matter of judgement how far the ‘Iraq factor’ was decisive in Colonel Qadhafi’s policy change, but it seems likely that coalition action in Iraq in 2003 accelerated a process that was already under way. Nevertheless, between the late 1990s and 2003, Colonel Qadhafi may well have thought that he could achieve rapprochement with the West while retaining nuclear, chemical and ballistic missile programmes. If so, it took some time for him to recognise the incompatibility between these two objectives.
WHAT WAS KNOWN
The principal JIC assessments on Libya between 1998 and 2003 paint a picture of steady progress in its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes. At first the JIC was not too concerned, judging that these programmes were not making any significant headway. But by mid-2000 the JIC was picking up signs of increased activity. By 2003, when the AQ Khan network was much better understood, Libya had been identified both as a prime customer and as one already in receipt of nuclear-related materiel. This was disturbing enough in itself, but was even more so when combined with knowledge of Libya’s long- range ballistic missile aspirations. The JIC felt confident enough to conclude that Colonel Qadhafi was actively pursuing the acquisition and development of “weapons of mass destruction”.
both sides working to the same agenda. But most importantly of all, there was strong integration in the UK between all the agencies. A decision was taken early on that at working level all information, however sensitive, would be shared.
There was also a high degree of co-operation between the agencies and policy-makers in departments. This enabled swift and effective action to be taken at the right time. The action was intelligence-led. The agencies uncovered the activities of the network. The development of policy and action to close it down followed:by interdictin g shipments; seeking co-operation from the Pakistani authorities; taking action with the recipients of AQ Khan’s products, most notably Libya; and by encouraging legal action, where possible, against members of the network.
On 19 December 2003, in a public statement, the Libyan Government said that: