Tripoli: The Libyan government on Friday accused the United States and Israel of discussing plans to attack it for allegedly getting hold of arms of mass destruction with the help of Iraqi experts.
The Libyan foreign affairs ministry, in a statement by the Libyan news agency JANA, denied Libya had such arms and warned against the consequences of an attack. ``Western diplomatic sources revealed that a series of meetings had been held in Tel Aviv between a number of high-ranking officers from the U.S. and Israeli armies that discussed field plans to carry out a military operation against Libya,'' the statement said.
The Libyan foreign affairs ministry ``condemns these aggressive plans against the Libyan people...and deeply regrets that the U.S. administration deals with such lies spread by a committee of the American Congress dominated by the Zionist lobby...,'' the statement said.
It said the pretext for an attack was a U.S. Congress report alleging that Iraqi scientists were helping Libya in an arms destruction programme. In a report last February, the director of the U.S. House of Representatives Task Force on Terrorism and Non-Conventional Warfare said Iraq moved Iraqi scientists and parts of its nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs to Libya after the Gulf War. The charge was denied by Tripoli as well as Baghdad.
``There are no mass destruction arms in Libya and there is no truth to any Libyan-Iraqi cooperation to manufacture them. These are lies...,'' the Libyan foreign affairs ministry reiterated. ``Any attack against Libya would be reciprocated tit for tat by the Libyan people and the international community which is urged to put an end to these continuing threats to Libya's security,'' it added.
Meanwhile the London-based Jane's Information Group predicted in its annual conflict analysis that Israel could launch a limited pre-emptive strike, and The Times of London reported this week that Israel's potential for launching such attacks "increased substantially yesterday with the surprise announcement [by Israel's Air Force Magazine] that the first of its new F15I long-range strike aircraft are operational."
Israel received the first two of the $84 million F151 warplanes made by the U.S. in January, and "the $2.5 billion order for 25 of the world's most advanced fighters, plus spare parts, is due to be completed by the end of this year" , The Times said.
Yet Libyan sources said the devastating UN sanctions against the country repesented a greater threat than US/Israel sabre rattling. Earlier this month, Hassan Ibrahim in the biannual report by the secretary general to the 67th Arab Economic Unity Council , said that total losses which hit all sectors of the Libyan economy since the UN imposing sanctions until 1996 reached US $23.560 billion, of which some US $5.856 billion are losses borne by the sectors of economy and trade.
The report attributed the losses in the economy and trade sectors to the negative consequences of sanctions on the sectors of agriculture, industry, and fisheries, a decrease in imports and exports, increasing costs, and frozen Libyan capital abroad.
The report estimated losses inflicted in the energy sector at US $5
billion, some US $5.136 billion in the sector of industry and minerals
and US $2.489 billion in the sector of transport and communications.