Findings have revealed that Britain allowed firms to sell chemicals capable of being used to make nerve gas to Syria.
British Press have reported that export licences for potassium fluoride and sodium fluoride were granted months after the bloody civil war in the Middle East began.
The chemical is capable of being used to make weapons such as sarin, thought to be the nerve gas used in the attack on a rebel-held Damascus suburb which killed nearly 1500 people, including 426 children, days ago.
The attack believed to have been carried out by President Bashar Assad’s forces has led to calls for an armed response from the West.
While British MPs voted against joining America in a strike, American President, Barack Obama is seeking the approval of Congress to take military action.
Investigations have revealed that the chemical export licences were granted by Business Secretary Vince Cable’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills in January, 10 months after the Syrian uprising began.
Six months after, sanctions imposed on Syria by the European Union led to the revocation of the licenses.
Politicians and anti-arms trade campaigners have urged Prime Minister David Cameron to explain why the licences were granted.
Dunfermline and West Fife Labour MP Thomas Docherty, who sits on the House of Commons’ Committees on Arms Export Controls, plans to lodge Parliamentary questions and write to Cable.
He said: “At best it has been negligent and at worst reckless to export material that could have been used to create chemical weapons. MPs will be horrified and furious that the UK Government has been allowing the sale of these ingredients to Syria.
What the hell were they doing granting a licence in the first place?
I would like to know what investigations have been carried out to establish if any of this
material exported to Syria was subsequently used in the attacks on its own people.”
The SNP’s leader at Westminster, Angus Robertson MP, said: “I will be raising this 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.
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 ongoing humanitarian crisis in Syria makes a full explanation around these shady deals even more important.”
Findings revealed that some details of the UK’s sale of the chemicals to Syria emerged in July but the crucial dates of the exports were withheld.
The Government has so far refused to identify the licence holders or say whether the licences were issued to one or two companies.
The chemicals are in powder form and highly toxic. The licences specified that they should be used for making aluminium structures such as window frames.
According to Professor Alastair Hay, an expert in environmental toxicology at Leeds University, “they have a variety of industrial uses. But when you’re making a nerve agent, you attach a fluoride element and that’s what gives it its toxic properties.
Fluoride is key to making these munitions. Whether these elements were used by Syria to make nerve agents is something only subsequent investigation will reveal.”
A team of inspectors from the United Nations was in Syria to make findings about the chemical weapons and the effects. Tests were carried out on samples taken from victims of the attack, as well as from water, soil and shrapnel. The results are expected to be out in a few weeks.
Meanwhile, Russia has condemned for the American President over the impending military action against Syria. Iran, another ally of Syria has disclosed that any military strike on Syria will cause it to strike Israel, a known US ally.