Opinion Brief

Would Gadhafi use mustard gas on his own people?

Rebels are closing in on Moammar Gadhafi in Libya. How far will he go to keep them out?

As rebels gain ground in Libya, the U.S. is worried that Moammar Gadhafi might use his stockpiles of mustard gas and other chemical weapons in a last-ditch effort to quell the revolt. "When you have a guy who's as irrational as Gadhafi with some serious weapons at his disposal, it's always a concern," an unnamed American official told The Wall Street Journal. Would Gadhafi really gas his own people?

Gadhafi is capable of anything: There's really nothing, it seems, that the desperate Libyan leader wouldn't do to stay in power, says Allahpundit at Hot Air. His loyalists have already reportedly fired anti-aircraft guns at a mosque in which protesters were sheltering, and unleashed helicopter gunships on opposition crowds. It's easy to imagine a gas attack as "some insane grand farewell gesture.""Gadhafi mercenaries shooting victims in hospitals?"

His military might stop him: It's chilling to consider what Gadhafi might do "in one last, desperate, act of rage," says Doug Mataconis at Outside the Beltway. But given how many of his soldiers "have refused to comply with orders to attack the protesters," it seems likely someone in the military would stop him if he tried to uncork his mustard gas."Will Gadhafi use mustard gas on his own people?"

He might want to, but he can't: Libya still has nearly 14 tons of mustard gas, despite a 2003 promise to destroy its weapons of mass destruction program, says Eli Lake in The Washington Times. That's a concern, but not cause for panic. Gadhafi did dismantle all his bombs that were capable of delivering the deadly gas, so he probably couldn't use it even if he tried."U.S. concerned about security for mustard gas, chemicals"

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