As Moammar Gadhafi appears to be entering his endgame, fears are increasing that the Libyan strongman might use chemical weapons against his own people. The Pentagon and other officials say Gadhafi’s remaining mustard gas, more than 11 tons, has been secured. But Libyan rebels are concerned because gas masks and protective suits have been shipped to Gadhafi’s remaining strongholds. As one London think-tank analyst tells the Washington Post, now that the possibility of a negotiated settlement with the West has been yanked, “there are no rules, no red lines”—and no telling what Gadhafi might do.
Gadhafi, who used chemical weapons against Chad in 1987, agreed to end his WMD program in 2003. Though he still has not eliminated all of the mustard gas, the remaining gas is “outdated and difficult to make operational,” says one senior US official. Records show that gas masks, protective suits, decontamination powder, napalm, and flamethrowers have been shipped to Sirte as well as another regime-controlled town in recent months, but at least one senior official notes that Gadhafi could simply be posturing. Meanwhile, the AP reports that Gadhafi broadcast an audio message today saying he is still in Libya and will never leave, denying reports that he fled to Niger.