U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry said on Wednesday that the United States would not allow Libya to complete an underground chemical weapons plant and would not rule out a military attack if Libya does not halt its chemical weapons program.
Perry issued the warning after presenting President Hosni M. Mubarak of Egypt with a detailed report on the plant, which is under construction in Tarhuna, 40 miles southeast of Tripoli, the Libyan capital.
Asked at a news conference if the United States would allow the Libyans to open the plant, Perry replied bluntly: “No. I don’t want to comment any further than that, but no.”
Asked whether the United States would use force to halt Libya’s chemical weapons program, Perry replied: “I wouldn’t rule anything out or anything in.”
Perry’s remarks appeared to put the United States once again on a collision course with the government of Col. Moammar Gadhafi, the Libyan leader, who has insisted that the plant at Tarhuna is intended to store irrigation water.