11 July 2014
UK: probable that British chemicals were used for Syria’s chemical weapons programme
On 9 July, the United Kingdom stated that is was probable that chemicals that were legally exported to Syria by British firms in the 1980s had been used for Syria’s chemical weapons programme. In a written statement to parliament, Foreign Secretary William Hague said that ‘from the information we hold, we judge it likely that these chemical exports by UK companies were subsequently used by Syria in their programs to produce nerve agents, including sarin’.
The statement specified three separate exports between 1983 and 1986 of ‘several hundred tonnes’ of dimethyl phosphite and trimethyl phosphite, both of which could be used in the fabrication of nerve agents, according to the UK. Hague said that at the time, the chemicals were not subject to international or British export restraints, but that stricter regulation had been adopted shortly after the exports.
On 9 July, Britain stated that it would process another 50 tonnes of chemicals from Syria’s stockpile, taking the total amount it has confirmed to destroy to 200 tonnes.