Flash: Large tranche of IRA arms destroyed - IICD
The IRA has completed a bigger act of decommissioning than
ever before, General John de Chastelain reported today.
The head of the international arms body confirmed he had
witnessed a third act in which the mainstream IRA had put
weapons beyond use.
Automatic guns, ammunition, explosives and explosives material
had all been taken out of circulation, he said.
The move is part of republican efforts to finally secure the
implementation of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. The Irish
and British governments, as well as the Ulster Unionist
leader David Trimble, are due to make significant statements
of their own later today.
In a press conference a short time ago, General de Chastelain
said: "The commission has witnessed a third event in which IRA
weapons have been put beyond use, in accordance with
government schemes and regulations."
Gen de Chastelain said the decommissioning was "considerably
larger" than previous disarmaments.
"The quantity of arms involved is much larger than the
quantity put beyond use in the previous event," he said.
He said the arms decommissioned comprised light, medium and
heavy ordnance and associated munitions including automatic
weapons, ammunition, explosives and explosives materiel.
The General and his colleagues on the Independent
International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD) discussed
their report after briefing Prime Minister Tony Blair and
Irish premier Bertie Ahern at Hillsborough Castle.
The disarmament group said they had assured themselves that
all the weapons put beyond use were in operational condition.
They intended to add an inventory of the explosives material
to a list from the previous act of decommissioning and provide
the full list to the two governments.
The amount of arms rendered permanently unusable "could have
caused death and destruction" if it had been used, Andrew
Sens, one of General de Chastelain's assistants added.
Earlier this afternoon, the IRA issued a second statement
confirming that more weapons had been put beyond use.
The one-paragraph statement said:
"The leadership of Oglaigh na hEireann can confirm that a
further act of putting arms beyond use has taken place under
the agreed scheme.