German Chemicals for Syria Merkel Denies Military Use

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says that according to preliminary information, German chemicals sent to Syria were not used to produce sarin. The Left Party wants a closer look.

UN weapons inspectors take samples in Syria in August 2013.
DPA

UN weapons inspectors take samples in Syria in August 2013.


German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday that according to preliminary information available to her, chemicals sent from Germany to Syria from 2002 to 2006 were used for civilian purposes, and not for the production of the nerve agent sarin.

Merkel's comments came after a document released Wednesday by the Economics Ministry confirmed that Germany had sent 137 tons of chemicals to Syria.

The chemicals included hydrogen flouride, sodium fluoride and ammonium hydrogen fluoride, which require special export permits (so-called "dual-use" permits) because they can be used for either civilian or military purposes, including the production of deadly sarin.

Speaking on the German network ARD, Merkel said that her predecessors in a center-left coalition of the Social Democrats and the Greens had looked carefully at what the chemicals would be used for in Syria. The exports were sent to Syria during that coalition in 2002 to 2003, and two years later, after a grand coalition government made up of Merkel's Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats had taken power in Berlin.

Intelligence Agency Consulted

The document was released after a parliamentary request for information from Germany's far-left Left Party. Jan van Aken, an expert on biological and chemical weapons for the Left Party and a former United Nations weapons inspector, is calling for a close examination of the chemicals sent from Germany to Syria.

"If there is one country to which no one should have sent them, it is Syria," van Aken told German broadcaster ZDF Thursday morning. "It was well known that sarin is being produced in large quantities there."

Merkel told ARD Wednesday that since May 2011, when stricter sanctions against Syria went into effect, there have been no similar exports to the country, and added that the government was looking into the earlier exports.

The non-military uses for the chemicals include the surface treatment of metals, water fluoridation and the production of toothpaste. According to government sources in Berlin, the country's foreign intelligence service, the Federal Intelligence Service (BND), was consulted before approval was given for exporting the chemicals.

UN chemical investigators earlier this week confirmed that sarin was used in an attack on civilians outside the Syrian capital of Damascus on Aug. 21. Despite criticism by the Russian government this week that the report was "one-sided," the UN has maintained that the findings are "indisputable."

mlb -- with wires

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anthonybellchambers 09/19/2013
1. Nuclear v chemical WMD
“Why Syria has 1000 tonnes of chemical WMD The elephant in the room, that determined Syria's adoption of a chemical weapons program in the 1980s as a deterrent against an Israeli nuclear attack, is a uniquely American animal. Ever since the assassination of John F Kennedy, successive US Presidents under pressure from the American Israel lobby, in Washington, have colluded in an extraordinary trick known as 'nuclear ambiguity' that has enabled Israel to covertly build the only undeclared nuclear weapons arsenal in the world. Estimates as to the size of this secret arsenal vary between 200 and 400 nuclear warheads and it is reported that Israel now has the capability to deliver its WMD by intermediate-range ballistic missile, ICBM, strike aircraft and also by cruise missiles from a fleet of nuclear-armed submarines. An offensive capability for a second strike that is unmatched by any European state, all of whom are signatories to both the NPT and the CWC. Israel is the only nuclear weapons state in the entire Middle East, Europe, Africa, Australasia, the United States and South America that has refused to be bound by these Agreements. Nuclear WMD are many times more lethal than chemical weapons as they can spread their deadly radiation over thousands of square miles and cross both national and international borders. This particular elephant, in the Syrian room, is an aggressive creature that Europe is increasingly unwilling to either feed or house.”
peskyvera 09/19/2013
2. optional
Why must chemicals be sent anywhere, anyhow? Obviously they aren't being used to bake bread or pastry. But of course...profits before anything else. Same old same.
danm 09/20/2013
3. optional
Many chemicals that can be weaponized also have practical commercial purposes. Fertilizers and elements in many different manufacturing processes.
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