U.K. Withholds Identities of Syria Chemical-Export Licensees

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Global Security Newswire Staff
Oct. 25, 2013, 11:02 a.m.

A seni­or Brit­ish of­fi­cial is with­hold­ing the iden­tit­ies of two com­pan­ies that ob­tained ap­prov­al from his de­part­ment in 2012 to sup­ply Syr­ia with pos­sible nerve-agent in­gredi­ents, the Lon­don In­de­pend­ent re­por­ted on Thursday.

Identi­fy­ing the com­pan­ies could cause un­deserved “repu­ta­tion­al dam­age” to the or­gan­iz­a­tions, said Vince Cable, Brit­ish Sec­ret­ary of State for Busi­ness, In­nov­a­tion and Skills.

The com­pan­ies planned to send the ma­ter­i­als to a Dam­as­cus com­pany 10 months after the 2011 start of Syr­ia’s civil war, Cable said. Since that time, nu­mer­ous claims of sar­in nerve-agent at­tacks have emerged from the con­flict, in­clud­ing a large-scale gas strike that brought the United States to the brink of pos­sible mil­it­ary in­ter­ven­tion.

A seni­or Brit­ish law­maker, though, ar­gued that with­hold­ing the com­pany names would pre­vent Par­lia­ment from look­ing in­to the ap­prov­al pro­cess.

“The prime ob­ject of the [par­lia­ment­ary] scru­tiny of this key is­sue is not the com­pan­ies but the gov­ern­ment … your own de­part­ment in par­tic­u­lar,” John Stan­ley, chair­man of the Par­lia­ment’s Com­mit­tees on Arms Ex­port Con­trols, wrote in a let­ter to Cable.

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