Belgian companies exported component of sarin to Syria

Belgian companies exported component of sarin to Syria

Three companies have sold a component which can be used to produce the nerve agent sarin to Syrian companies with the approval of the Belgian customs that apparently did not enforce a ban in force since 2014. According to a report on Wednesday by Knack magazine, which was also mentioned by Le Soir, 24 deliveries took place between May 2014 and December 2016.

The alleged deliveries were carried out by three companies in Antwerp, A.A.E.E. Chemie Trading, Annex Customs and Danmar Logistics, and are now subject to investigations. A trial will be held in May before the Antwerp Criminal Court.

The companies claim that they have traded with private Syrian and Lebanese firms that produce paints, varnishes and coolants.

Dozens of tons of chemicals were exported to Syria and Lebanon. Some of these products, such as isopropanol, can be used to make chemical weapons including the nerve agent sarin.

The Syrian regime is suspected of having used chlorine and sarin in the recent attack against Douma. The use of chemical weapons prompted missile attacks on Saturday morning by the US, France and United Kingdom to deter the regime from future use of such weapons.

Chlorine is commercially available and used for water systems. While chlorine was the primary chemical in the attack in Douma, according to American intelligence assessments, sarin is more dangerous and harder to handle.

Since 2013, the export of chemicals to Syria is subject to special authorization. Belgian customs apparently did not enforce the ban of the International Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

The organisation is the implementing body of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which entered into force in 1997. 120 tons of isopropanol were destroyed by the OPCW in Syria in 2014.

The Brussels Times

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