Silver Lining

Food for thought

Britain sold nerve chemicals to Syrian groups 10 months after crisis began

Al Manar

The UK Daily Record website revealed Sunday that the United Kingdom had allowed firms to sell nerve gas chemicals to parties in Syria in January 2012, i.e. 10 months after the Syrian conflict began.

The website noted that those chemicals, just like the sarin, are capable of being used to make chemical weapons.

The chemical export licenses were granted by Business Secretary Vince Cable’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, but were only revoked six months later, when the European Union imposed tough sanctions on the Arab country.

On Saturday, politicians and anti-arms trade campaigners urged Prime Minister David Cameron to explain why the licenses were granted.

The SNP’s leader at Westminster, MP Angus Robertson, said he will be raising the issue in Parliament as soon as possible to find out what examination the UK Government made of where these chemicals were going and what they were to be used for.

“Approving the sale of chemicals which can be converted into lethal weapons during a civil war is a very serious issue,” he stated.

“We need to know who these chemicals were sold to, why they were sold, and whether the UK Government were aware that the chemicals could potentially be used for chemical weapons,” the British MP added.

Daily Record noted that the UK government have refused to identify the license holders or say whether the licenses were issued to one or two companies.

The Syrian government has denied blame for the nerve gas attack, saying the accusations are “full of lies,” pointing the finger at militant opposition groups.

UN weapons inspectors investigating the atrocity left Damascus on Saturday after gathering evidence for four days. It could take up to two weeks for the results of tests on samples taken from victims of the attack, as well as from water, soil and shrapnel, to be revealed.

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