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Moammar Gadhafi had undeclared chemical weapons, monitors say

David Sperry / AP, file

Chemical containers are seen at an unguarded storage facility in the desert, about 62 miles south of Sirte, Libya.

International inspectors have confirmed that late Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi had an undeclared stockpile of chemical weapons, the organization that oversees a global ban on such armaments announced Friday.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said inspectors who visited Libya this week found sulfur mustard and artillery shells "which they determined are chemical munitions," meaning the shells were not filled with chemicals, but were designed specifically to be loaded with chemical weapons.


"They are not ready to use, because they are not loaded with agents," OPCW spokesman Michael Luhan said.

He would not divulge the amounts of chemicals in the previously unknown stockpile, except to call it "a fraction" of what Gadhafi disclosed in the past.

Libya's interim leaders declare independence from 42 years of rule by Moammar Gadhafi, whose cause of death remains under investigation. NBC's Adrienne Mong reports.

Libya's new rulers told the Hague-based organization about the chemicals last year after toppling Gadhafi from power. The longtime Libyan strongman was killed in October after being captured by rebel fighters.

The newly confirmed chemical armaments are stored at the Ruwagha depot in southeastern Libya together with chemical weapons that Gadhafi had declared to international authorities in 2004 as he tried to shake off his image as an international pariah and rebuild relations with the West.

He declared his regime had 27.6 tons of sulfur mustard and 1,543 tons of precursor chemicals used to make chemical weapons. His regime also declared more than 3,500 unfilled aerial bombs designed for use with chemical warfare agents such as sulfur mustard, and three chemical weapons production facilities.

Those stockpiles were being destroyed until a technical problem halted destruction last year at the same time as the popular uprising began that led to Gadhafi's ouster and death.

Rebels reportedly protect Moammar Gadhafi's son, Seif al-Islam, from angry mobs after he is captured without a fight in Libya. NBC's Richard Engel reports.

Libya was to have completed destruction of its chemical weapons by April 29 of this year, under the terms of an international treaty, but can no longer meet the deadline after the turmoil that roiled the country last year. The country's new government now has until that date to file a plan and proposed completion date for destroying its entire chemical weapon stockpile.

The BBC reported that other countries were also behind  in meeting the terms of the international treaty. It said the US has acknowledged it will take as long as 2021 to finish destroying the final 10 percent of its chemical weapons. Russia is farther behind in its effort, having destroyed only about 48 percent of a large cache of chemical weapons, the OPCW has said.

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The Associated Press and msnbc.com staff contributed to this report.