European Union Seeks U.N. Approval to Intercept Libya-Bound Arms

UNITED NATIONS — A year after it received the United Nations Security Council’s approval to try to stop human smuggling out of Libya, Europe is seeking the Council’s authorization to intercept illegal arms going into Libya.


Speaking to the Council on Monday, the European Union’s top foreign policy official, Federica Mogherini, urged members to authorize European naval operations in the Mediterranean Sea “to enforce the U.N. arms embargo on the high seas, off the coast of Libya.”


That arms embargo, often violated, has been in place since 2011, during the revolt against Libya’s longtime ruler, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi.


The new European request would allow the existing naval effort, known as Operation Sophia, to expand its mandate in international waters, from intercepting migrant boats leaving Libyan territory to intercepting weapons heading in.


Western diplomats on the Council have said they expect the measure to come up for a vote in mid-June.


“I can only hope that this Council will once again do the right thing,” Ms. Mogherini said, “and help us make the Mediterranean a safer place for everyone.”


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