NEW YORK – Libya's prime minister said his country wants to be rewarded for opening up to nuclear inspections and stressed that the United States must lift sanctions by May 12 or his government won't have to pay $6 million to each family of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing victims, according to an interview published Friday.
Prime Minister Shukri Ghanim told The New York Times that Libya wants to be paid for turning over nuclear materials. Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi (search) pledged in mid-December to give up his unconventional weapons programs and to open weapons sites to inspectors.
Ghanim told the Times that the North African country wants to "accelerate to the maximum" the dismantling of its unconventional weapons programs so that Libya could be declared free of the weapons in the next few months.
At the same time, Ghanim reiterated that his country won't have to pay the remaining $6 million to each family of the victims of the airliner bombing unless Washington lifts the sanctions that it imposed in 1986 by May 12.
In August, Libya agreed to accept responsibility for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 (search) over Lockerbie, Scotland. It has paid the families of the 270 victims $4 million each so far. That led the United Nations to lift sanctions on Sept. 12.
Libya promised to pay another $4 million if the United States lifts its own sanctions against Libya and another $2 million if Libya is removed from the State Department's list of countries sponsoring terrorism within eight months.
"The agreement says that eight months after the signing, if American sanctions are not removed, then the additional $6 million for each family of victims will not be paid," Ghanim said. "This would be for the good of the families of the victims, but we will leave this to the decision of the Americans."
Glenn Johnson, chairman of the Victims of Pan Am Flight 103, which represents about 150 families, said it's up to Libya to meet the conditions for lifting the sanctions -- letting inspectors in and dismantling weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear, chemical and biological.
"They haven't dismantled," he said. "They say they're willing to and going to, but I don't think anyone wants to lift sanctions because they say they're going to do it."
The agreement, he said, can be extended another eight months after the deadline. Johnson said he expects that to happen.
"They know what is required," he said. "Until it's done, I don't expect the sanctions to be lifted. We don't want them to be. I think that's the view of the families."