You can read 19 more articles this month
Business Secretary Vince Cable has come under increased pressure over exporting potential chemical weapons components to Syria in breach of government policy.
Commons committees on arms exports controls chairman Sir John Stanley said January 2012 export licences for sodium fluoride and potassium fluoride should never have been approved.
And he demanded Mr Cable reveal the company involved.
The Lib Dem minister has told the commitee that the licences were granted in line with EU and British export rules, including over whether there was a “clear risk that they might be used for internal repression.”
EU rules were tightened following the introduction of new sanctions in June 2012 and the licences were revoked in July, but by that time some chemicals had already been shipped out.
In a strongly worded letter to Mr Cable, Sir John wrote: “Syria has long been know to be a holder of chemical weapons and your department were clearly fully aware that sodium fluoride and potassium fluoride are precursor chemicals in the manufacture of chemical weapons.”
Given that, he asked: “Do you agree on reflection that both of these licences should have been refused?”
Sir John also accused Mr Cable of misrepresenting Britain’s policy on export controls.
He cited a statement by Foreign Secretary William Hague who said that export licences were not issued in situations where they “might be used to facilitate internal repression.”
This was a “substantially different and materially tighter” policy than Mr Cable’s formulation, he argued.
Amnesty British arms programme director Oliver Sprague said: “Chemicals like sodium flouride and potassium fluoride are used in the medical and manufacturing industries, and these exports could have been completely legitimate.
“However, where the products are as sensitive as these, it’s vital that additional — and really rigorous — safeguards are put in place to ensure that the materials are not at risk of being converted for military or other unintended use.”
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by joining the 501 club.
Just £5 a month gives you the opportunity to win one of 17 prizes, from £25 to the £501 jackpot.
By becoming a 501 Club member you are helping the Morning Star cover its printing, distribution and staff costs — help keep our paper thriving by joining!
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by become a member of the People’s Printing Press Society.
The Morning Star is a readers’ co-operative, which means you can become an owner of the paper too by buying shares in the society.
Shares are £1 each — though unlike capitalist firms, each shareholder has an equal say. Money from shares contributes directly to keep our paper thriving.
Some union branches have taken out shares of over £500 and individuals over £100.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by donating to the Fighting Fund.
The Morning Star is unique, as a lone socialist voice in a sea of corporate media. We offer a platform for those who would otherwise never be listened to, coverage of stories that would otherwise be buried.
The rich don’t like us, and they don’t advertise with us, so we rely on you, our readers and friends. With a regular donation to our monthly Fighting Fund, we can continue to thumb our noses at the fat cats and tell truth to power.
Donate today and make a regular contribution.