According to preliminary information available to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, chemicals sent from Germany to Syria from 2002 and 2006 were used for civilian purposes and not for the production of the nerve agent Sarin, according to the German news agency Spiegel.
Merkel made the comments following the release of a document Wednesday by the Economics Ministry, which confirmed that Germany had previously sent 137 tons of chemicals to Syria.
The chemicals sent by Germany included hydrogen fluoride, sodium fluoride, and ammonium hydrogen fluoride; these require special export permits because they can be used for either civilian or military purposes. This includes the production of deadly sarin.
Speaking on the German news network ARD, Merkel said her predecessors in a center-left coalition of the Social Democrats and the Greens had carefully analyzed what the chemicals would be used for in Syria.
The chemicals were sent to Syria during that coalition in 2002 and 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, Spiegel reports.
The document was released following a parliamentary request for information from Germany’s Left Party. An expert on biological and chemical weapons for the Left Party, Jan Van Aken, and a former U.N. weapons inspector, is calling for a closer 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.”
On Wednesday, Merkel told ARD that since May 2011 there had been no similar chemical exports to Syria as stricter sanctions had gone into effect.
U.N. chemical investigators earlier this week, confirmed that sarin was used in an attack on civilians outside the Syrian capital of Damascus on August 21.
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