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U.S. Lifts Economic Sanctions against Libya

Posted September. 21, 2004 22:04,   


U.S. President George W. Bush lifted economic sanctions against Libya on September 20. This was done after Libya publicly announced that it would abandon its Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) last December. The sanctions were lifted for the first time in 20 years after they were first imposed back in 1985.

As of now, the restrictions on aviation were lifted, and $1.3 billion worth of the Libyan government’s frozen assets were released. The incident is interpreted as a display of the Bush administration’s efforts to eliminate WMD worldwide, as well as a “demonstrative advertising effort,” targeting North Korea and Iran.

However, the North Koreans have already refused to follow the U.S.’ offer to follow the Libyan model, and Iran has taken a resolute stance against bans, questioning how much of an incentive this incident may be interpreted to be by the two countries.

What Sanctions Were Lifted—

All four major economic sanctions were restarted or lifted after President Bush signed the administrative order today. They include the restarting of aviation services, the reopening of commercial trade, the returning to normal of petroleum supplies, and the releasing of frozen assets.

The majority of the lifted economic sanctions focused on frozen Libyan assets in the U.S. Estimated at $1.3 billion, the release of the assets has a direct correlation to compensation payments granted to the families of the victims of the 1988 Pan Am Lockerbie bombings. Of the $10 million compensation package that Libya has promised to each family, an initial payment of $4 million was made, and Libya promised to pay the rest after U.S. economic sanctions were lifted.

Slim Chances for North Korean WMD Abandonment—

However, the chances that Iran and North Korea will announce their abandonment of WMD are very slim. The Libyans faced severe limitations to develop WMD before announcing they would abandon their program. On the other hand, it is widely accepted that the North Koreans already possess nuclear weapons.

The North Koreans said in the past, after the Libyans announced they would abandon their WMD, “Under our current circumstances, it is impossible to anticipate drastic changes in our policies (like the Libyans).”

Libya had also gone through ongoing “secret negotiations” with Great Britain, a proxy in this case to the United States, before announcing it would abandon its WMD programs last December.

However, the U.S. has taken an unyielding stance in the case of North Korea, requiring multi-national talks and a policy that incorporates both the freezing of assets and compensation.

Jung-Ahn Kim credo@donga.com