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Libya Table of Contents


Other Multilateral Organizations

Libya is a member of several other regional and international groups, including the League of Arab States (Arab League), the Islamic Conference, the Arab-African Development Bank, and the Islamic Development Bank. As a leading member of the Third World movement, it has been a strong proponent of the establishment of a new world economic order between North and South.

Nuclear Development

Qadhafi's stance on nuclear weapons has been contradictory. Unconfirmed but persistent press reports beginning soon after the 1969 revolution indicated that Libya wanted to purchase a nuclear weapon or the components for such a device. According to one report, Qadhafi sent his deputy, Jallud, to Beijing (formerly Peking) in an unsuccessful attempt to purchase tactical nuclear weapons. Qadhafi has voiced his concern over the Israeli nuclear capability and publicly expressed his desire to obtain nuclear weapons. Nevertheless, in 1975 Libya reaffirmed its commitment to the 1968 Treaty of Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, signed originally by the monarchy in 1968 (see Foreign Military Assistance , ch. 5). Qadhafi also stated in interviews in 1981 and 1984 that Libya was only interested in the peaceful applications of nuclear energy, and he scoffed at the idea of "an Islamic bomb."

There is no doubt, however, that Libya has undertaken extensive bilateral negotiations to secure nuclear research facilities and power plants, and many Libyan students in nuclear energy fields have been sent to United States, West European, and East European universities to further their studies. According to the terms of a 1974 nuclear cooperation treaty with Argentina, Libya was provided with equipment and technical training. Argentina agreed to send senior geologists to Libya to advise on uranium prospecting and uranium enrichment. One alleged reason Libya occupied the Aouzou Strip in Chad in 1975 was that the area was thought to be rich in uranium deposits. Libya and India agreed in July 1978 to cooperate in the peaceful application of nuclear energy, in line with India's "atoms for peace" policy. Libya also contributed money to Pakistan's nuclear effort. France agreed in 1976 to build a nuclear research plant in Libya designed to power a water desalination plant.

Libya's main partner in the nuclear field, however, has been the Soviet Union. A small (ten megawatt) Soviet-supplied reactor began operation in Tajura (outside Tripoli) in 1981. Three years later, a research center was opened at the same site; aided by Soviet staff, it continued to operate in 1987. In early 1986, however, a plan for the construction of nine 440-megawatt nuclear power plants was suspended indefinitely.

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In the 1970s, relatively few scholarly books were published about Libya. For a study of the early years of the Libyan revolution, Ruth First's Libya: The Elusive Revolution is perhaps the single most authoritative source. Henri Pierre Habib's Politics and Government of Revolutionary Libya, though likewise dated, contains useful information, although it is biased favorably toward the regime. In the early 1980s, several important books filled the vacuum of information on Libya. Libyan Sandstorm by John K. Cooley, published in 1982, provides an entertaining yet meticulously researched journalistic account of the activities of the Qadhafi regime. Qaddafi and the United States Since 1969 by P. Edward Haley, published in 1984, provides a comprehensive and detailed description of Libyan foreign policy, particularly insofar as it affects United States interests. In 1986 and 1987, as Libya became more newsworthy, a spate of new books were published on the topic. Among these, Libya: Qadhafi's Revolution and the Modern State by Lillian Craig Harris provides an excellent general overview of the situation in Libya. Qaddafi and the Libyan Revolution by David Blundy and Andrew Lycett is a highly critical and well documented probe of Libyansponsored terrorism. Jonathan Bearman's Qadhafi's Libya is a sympathetic yet informative analysis of the Libyan revolution. The Making of a Pariah State: The Adventurist Politics of Muammar Qaddafi by Martin Sicker concentrates on Libyan foreign relations. The State and Social Transformation in Tunisia and Libya, 1830-1980 by Lisa Anderson looks at Libya in a larger historical context. Qaddafi: His Ideology in Theory and Practice by Mohamed A. El-Khawas focuses on Qadhafi's thought. With regard to the latter topic, the English language translation of Qadhafi's three-volume The Green Book is widely available. Likewise, as a primary research source, an English language version of the Libyan newspaper Az Zahf al Akhdar is available.

Because of the rapid pace of political change in Libya, books soon become outdated, and to obtain recent information on the subject one must rely on news media, in which Libya is well covered. For further detail, one must turn to specialized periodicals such as Africa Confidential, African Economic Digest, Africa Research Bulletin, Middle East Economic Digest, the Economist Intelligence Unit Quarterly Reports on Libya, and the chapters on Libya in the annual Middle East Contemporary Survey. French-language sources include Le Monde Afrique and Jeune Afrique. (For further information and complete citations, see Bibliography.)

Data as of 1987

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Libya Table of Contents