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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

UK faces 'challenging decisions' on Libya, says navy chief

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

London, June 14, IRNA -- Head of Britain's navy has underlined the precarious nature of the UK's leading involvement in the military intervention in Libya, saying the cost of the NATO-led campaign will soon create 'challenging decisions'.

Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope suggested that the navy will not be able to continue the current scale of operations around Libya beyond the summer unless tough decisions are made, admitting Britain's response would have been 'much more reactive' if the country's only aircraft carrier had not been scrapped.

'How long can we go on as we are in Libya? Certainly – in terms of NATO's current time limit that has been extended to 90 days – we are comfortable with that,” Stanhope said.

'Beyond that we might have to request the government to make some challenging decisions about priorities,” he told a London press briefing on Monday.

'There are different ways of doing this. It's not simply about giving up standing commitments, we will have to rebalance.'

His remarks come amid growing concern about the prolonged nature of the Libya intervention and its cost at a time when British troops are still involved in the Afghan war and the Ministry of Defence is facing cuts in its budget due to the economic recession.

Much criticism has focussed on the failure to force regime change in Libya in a mission that started with the protection of civilians and the setting up of a no fly zone in March.

Last month, the opposition Labour Party broke its consensus with the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition on the escalating military intervention following the despatch of Apache attack helicopters to Libya.

Labour's shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy warned that it “marked a serious intensification of Britain's military commitment in Libya” and questioned what was the government's exit strategy.

Islamic Republic News Agency/IRNA NewsCode: 30431678

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