Libya’s Iraq War Timeline

Key events in the lead up to and the aftermath of the Iraq war

December 1988: Libyan terrorists bomb PanAm flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 people.

April 1999: U.N. suspends sanctions after Libya extradites the two Lockerbie suspects to Scottish custody in the Netherlands.

Mid-level U.S. State Department representatives begin a secret dialogue with Libyan officials.

October 2001: U.S. begins a series of public negotiations with Libya.

March 2003: Talks continue; Libya says it will accept responsibility for Lockerbie.

January-June 2003: According to the C.I.A., Libya develops its nuclear infrastructure, including discussions with Russia on cooperation at the Tajura Nuclear Research Center and a potential power reactor deal; expands its ballistic missile efforts; reestablishes contacts with chemical weapon experts and suppliers in Western Europe; and seeks dual-use capabilities useful for biological weapons.

July 2003: Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi announces that Libya has uranium, but will not develop a nuclear weapon.

August 2003: Qaddafi offers to allow international inspections of industrial sites in search of biological and chemical weapons.

Libya accepts formal responsibility for Lockerbie and agrees to compensate each victim’s family with up to $10 million.

September 2003: U.N. Security Council votes to lift sanctions; U.S. and France abstain.

October 2003: Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is quoted as saying Libya is working with North Korea and Pakistan to acquire nuclear know-how and technology.

U.S. and Britain intercept a German-owned freighter carrying thousands of centrifuge parts to Libya.

December 2003: Libya agrees to verifiably dismantle its mass destruction weapon programs, freeze its nuclear activities, and limit the range of existing missiles to 180 miles.

U.S. and Britain announce that Libya’s decision to disarm is a result of nine months of negotiations, during whichU.S. and British weapon specialists and intelligence experts visited ten secret Libyan weapon sites.  They describe the nuclear program as “nascent” but are shocked at Libya’s success in buying sophisticated equipment, such as centrifuges, needed to produce nuclear weapons.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) visits four Libyan nuclear sites and assesses that the nuclear program is still years away from being able to produce a bomb. The IAEA sees no full-scale uranium enrichment facility (only a pilot unit) or enriched uranium.

January 2004: U.S. officials reportedly confirm that Libya’s centrifuge design originated in Pakistan and appears to have been received after September 11, 2001.

Libya signs the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Libya ratifies the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

It is agreed that U.S. and British experts will oversee destruction and removal of nuclear components in Libya, and IAEA teams will certify Libya’s compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

U.S., British and U.N. inspectors reportedly reveal that Libya procured parts for 100 aluminum-rotor centrifuge machines beginning in the late 1990s, then adopted a more advanced maraging steel design, for which it ordered 10,000 machines, plus production equipment.

U.S. and Britain remove 55,000 pounds of Libyan nuclear and missile equipment and documentation – including uranium hexafluoride (UF6), missile guidance devices, and centrifuge components, plus warhead designs believed to have been bought from the A.Q. Khan nuclear network.

February 2004: Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) begins inspections of Libyan chemical weapons.

IAEA details history of Libya’s nuclear program in a public report and finds its past activities noncompliant with its NPT obligations, but commends its recent cooperation.

Malaysian investigators report that the Khan network shipped partly enriched uranium, as well as designs and technology for making a nuclear bomb, to Libya on Pakistani planes in 2001 and 2002.  The report also  says entities from Turkey, Germany, Switzerland, Britain, Dubai and Malaysia were involved in Libya’s nuclear program.

U.S. eases sanctions against Libya.

Libya tells the IAEA it wants to retain at least three nuclear facilities, including a uranium conversion plant that the U.S. wants dismantled and removed.

March 2004: OPCW receives a compete declaration that discloses a chemical weapons production facility at Rabta that produced 23 metric tons of mustard gas, two storage facilities and 2.9 million pounds of precursor materials that could be used to produce sarin nerve gas.

OPCW completes inventory of Libya’s chemical weapons.

The last 500 tons of material from Libya’s nuclear program is shipped to the U.S., including all centrifuge parts and equipment from the uranium conversion facility, plus all long-range missiles, including five Scud-C missiles.

Libya signs the Additional Protocol to its IAEA Safeguards agreement.

Libya sends 16 kilograms of uranium reactor fuel enriched to 80% U-235 from Tajura back to Russia.

U.S. says the Khan network received $100 million for the technology sold to Libya.