The Guardian reports: Ministers are to face further questions over the decision to allow the export of substances used to make chemical weapons to Syria, months after the country descended into civil war.
In a letter to the business secretary, Vince Cable, to be sent on Monday, a member of the House of Commons’ committee on arms export controls will demand to know who was allowed to sell the chemicals and what other licences for the export of dangerous materials to Syria have been granted.
Labour MP Thomas Docherty will also ask which civil servants knew that the potassium fluoride and sodium fluoride they allowed British firms to sell could be used to make nerve agents and when they found out.
Docherty criticised the government after it emerged that British firms were granted the licences in January 2012, about 10 months after the start of the bloody conflict. In a draft of the letter, seen by the Guardian, he wrote that he was “horrified” by the news. And he asked if civil servants consulted colleagues in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office or Ministry of Defence to determine what the chemicals could be used for.
Cable admitted that licences were granted to sell the chemicals for use in the manufacture of “aluminium showers, windows, etc”. But he admitted that they “could also be used as precursor chemicals in the manufacture of chemical weapons”. He refused to publish additional details, citing “commercial sensitivity”. [Continue reading…]