updated 1/2/2004 2:35:13 PM ET 2004-01-02T19:35:13

Libya’s prime minister said his country wanted to be rewarded for opening up to nuclear inspections and stressed that the United States must lift sanctions by May 12 or his government would not 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 wanted to be paid for turning over nuclear materials. Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi 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 wanted to “accelerate to the maximum” the dismantling of its unconventional weapons programs so Libya could be declared free of the weapons in the next few months.

$6 million for families at issue
At the same time, Ghanim reiterated that his country would not have to pay the remaining $6 million to each family of the victims of the airliner bombing unless Washington lifted 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 over Lockerbie, Scotland. It has paid the families of the 270 victims $4 million apiece so far. That led the United Nations to lift sanctions Sept. 12.

Libya promised to pay another $4 million if the United States lifted its own sanctions against Libya and $2 million more if Libya was 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.”

Lockerbie families say no
Glenn Johnson, chairman of the Victims of Pan Am Flight 103, which represents about 150 families, said it was 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 expected 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.”

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