Dutch firms exported chemicals to Syria with weapons potential

Dutch companies have for years been selling chemicals to Syria which can be used to make chemical weapons, according to research by the NRC and RTL news.

In 2003, for example, one Dordrecht-based company exported 160,000 litres of methyl ethyleen glycol to part of the Syrian defence ministry, RTL and the NRC say. The compound can be used to make antifreeze but is also used to make mustard and other toxic gas.

There are indications the Netherlands and the US authorities were concerned the chemicals were being used to make weapons but the exports were not halted, the research shows.

The claims are based on documents from the Wikileaks collection.

Warnings

The US also warned the Netherlands in 2003 and 2007 about the exports. And while the Netherlands urged other countries to stop making similar deliveries in 2008, the Dutch firm continued to export the chemical in 2008, 2009 and 2010, the report states.

The warring parties in Syria have accused each other of using chemical weapons.

Opposition party D66 has called for immediate answers from the cabinet about the exports. Sjoerd Sjoerdsma said in particular he wants to know why the exports continued despite US calls for a ban. He also wants to know why glycol is not yet on the list of banned substances for export.