Chemical Sales to Syria Prompt Outcry From British Parliament

A Syrian rebel fighter stands on a street in Aleppo following a reported government airstrike on Monday. British legislators criticized their government over 2012 exports of potential chemical-arms ingredients to Syria.
A Syrian rebel fighter stands on a street in Aleppo following a reported government airstrike on Monday. British legislators criticized their government over 2012 exports of potential chemical-arms ingredients to Syria. (Ahmed Deeb/AFP/Getty Images)

British lawmakers lashed their government for approving sales of potential chemical-arms ingredients to Syria as recently as 2012, according to the BBC.

"The decision of the present government to give two export license approvals for dual-use chemicals to Syria in January 2012 after the civil war had started in Syria in 2011 was irresponsible," asserts a report published on Wednesday by the House of Commons Arms Export Controls Committees.

According to the United Kingdom's Conservative Party-led coalition government, British officials lacked any legal basis to deny licenses for exporting sodium fluoride and potassium fluoride to the Middle Eastern country.

The parliamentary panels countered that the government's defense was "grossly inaccurate." They argued that President Bashar Assad's regime "was a known holder of chemical weapons" and that "Syria was a known non-signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention."

The committees urged the Prime Minister David Cameron's administration to indicate "whether it will adopt a policy of a very strong presumption against approving" such sales to countries outside the international regime to ban chemical arms.

Separately, the lawmakers criticized as "highly questionable" the prior British government's approval of five sales of weapon-usable chemicals to Syria between July 2004 and 2010.

The United Kingdom is now taking part in an international effort to help dispose of Syria's chemical arsenal, following last year's deadly attacks against civilians and a move by Damascus to acknowledge its stockpile and eliminate it as a new member of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

July 23, 2014
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British lawmakers lashed their government for approving sales of potential chemical-arms ingredients to Syria as recently as 2012, according to the BBC.