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Yes, Just a scant ten months after the beginning of the civil war in Syria Britain sold Syria chemicals that could be used to make nerve gas.

Export licences for potassium fluoride and sodium fluoride were granted months after the bloody civil war in the Middle East began.

The chemical is capable of being used to make weapons such as sarin, thought to be the nerve gas used in the attack on a rebel-held Damascus suburb which killed nearly 1500 people, including 426 children, 10 days ago.

It's not clear which MPs knew this in the lead up to the vote against intervention in Parliament, but it seems like it would have been pertinent information. It also isn't clear, and probably impossible to know, if the chemical weapons used in the attack were created with chemical sold by Britain to Syria.

UPDATE: After feedback from numerous people who clearly know whatthe hel they're talking about I realize that I fell into a media hack talking points sham. I'm gald this isn't on the rec list and if those of you who recced it could kindly remove your rec I would thank you. These were "ingredients" to chemical weapons only in the broadest sense of the word. Saying it as such would be like saying that selling Syria lead was sellingthem ingredients for bullets, technically true, but practically besides the point.

Also, these chemicals are baned only under economic sanctions and not under dual use sanctions, to my knowledge. Which means tehy aren't banned because of their specific uses and only banned because of their general economic uses.

I apologize for the misleading diary, I'm leaving it up so that these updates are here.

Further update: Apparently there were no actual sales of these chemicals, just some approvals of sales. I don't have confirmation of that other than  Lib Dem FoP. Since there were no records of sales mentioned in the article I assume it's true.

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Comment Preferences

  •  yeah, the Mid-East journalists on Twitter have (4+ / 0-)

    been bouncing that one around a lot today.

    The Mail broke it, so there's probably some to the real story than what you've got there.. (although the guardian got a hold of it as well, I think)

      •  ah. I guess the twitter-world just found the new (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Richard Lyon, Shockwave, leonard145b

        article....it was the first I had seen of it.

      •  New or not, it certainly has a bearing on the (7+ / 0-)

        utter hypocrisy being exercised here, by our closest ally, Britain.  
        Supply the chemicals to make chemical weapons, then condemn the use of chemical weapons.  Amazing gumption, really.

        "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

        by YucatanMan on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 12:12:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That doesn't sound very convincing to me. (4+ / 0-)

          They export these chemicals to a number of different countries. When chemical attacks became an issue in Syria, the EU imposed an embargo on such exports there and the UK revoked the export licenses.

          This is all something that has been going on for a couple of years. Obama for some reason just decided that it now amounts to a casus belli.

          •  Well, he has his "red lines" and all (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Shockwave, corvo, lunachickie

            Too bad his "red lines" don't extend to protecting Social Security from any cuts ... etc ... etc.

            "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

            by YucatanMan on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 12:29:41 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  The other part of the issue, perhaps, is that (6+ / 0-)

            Assad was involved in an ugly civil war, killing civilians and torturing children to death from the beginning. He actually made the protests worse and started the civil war through his indiscriminate killing, which the whole world knew about.

            The question, then, is:  Why would any decent nation be conducting any trade whatsoever with a nation torturing children to death?

            Britain had to wait for an EU embargo to find its morality?

            Assad has been odious all along. Bush relied upon him to torture some of "our suspects."  Obama had no problems with the Odious Assad until just recently, after 100,000 are already dead (on both sides, to be fair).  Suddenly, Assad is a problem.

            I just fail to buy what they're selling. No war. No US attacks. No.

            "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

            by YucatanMan on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 12:38:20 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I don't buy what they're selling, either (4+ / 0-)

              But Britain didn't sell these things to Syria, British companies did. The British government just granted export licenses for them, then revoked them later.

              This is a standard exporting practice and, from what I read at the link provided in the diary, perhaps controversial but not out of the ordinary.

              P.S. I am not a crackpot.

              by BoiseBlue on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 12:47:29 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Add to that the fact that Syria is one of the few (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Senor Frog, YucatanMan, pat bunny

                countries that didn't sign the CWC and it seem that this was an absurd sale. Sure, it's standard practice, but that doesn't make it right. If we want to have an international norm then we should work on eforcing it before itturns into a military issue.

                If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

                by AoT on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 01:00:43 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Perhaps but, again, Britain didn't sell the (7+ / 0-)

                  chemicals to Syria. Your diary title is misleading, to say the least.

                  Britain would have to have issued an embargo in order to deny export licenses for commercial use. In other words, if the goods were being sold to a Colgate plant in Syria, there would be no reason to deny the export license.

                  For the record, I adamantly oppose economic sanctions against other nations except for extreme cases. That would have had to happen in order for Britain to prevent trading between the nations.

                  At this point we don't know what the chemicals were used for, and the possibilities are endless since there are so many uses for said chemicals. We don't know which companies exported the chemicals, and we don't know to whom they sold them.

                  So I'm just trying to bring some clarity and reality to this diary before people get carried away.

                  That is a very important distinction to make before people start believing that Britain sold chemicals to Syria. From the facts that are available, that did NOT happen.

                   

                  P.S. I am not a crackpot.

                  by BoiseBlue on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 01:11:31 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  We don't know what they were used for, as I noted (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Senor Frog

                    But pretending like British companies exporting chemicals to Syria is not Britain seling chemicals to Syria is absurd. Unless you're arguing that these are all multinational coprorations now so they aren't really British. But Britain maintains some level of control over it's corporations, more than the US at least. Saying that it was just British corporations doesn't realy fly with me. TEchnically all arms sales from the US are just US corporations.

                    If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

                    by AoT on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 01:24:44 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  You do realize that every nation on this planet (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      kyril, grover

                      has different trade laws, right?

                      We don't even know if the companies who exported the chemicals are British based! It could be a US corporation with a plant in Britain that exported these.

                      That's the thing about multi-national corporations. The companies that exported the product could be American companies. How are you not getting this?

                      P.S. I am not a crackpot.

                      by BoiseBlue on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 01:33:02 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  They are sold from Britain (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Senor Frog, scrambler

                        and the sales were okayed by Britain. That makes them British sales as far as I'm concerned.

                        If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

                        by AoT on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 01:40:54 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Then show that and make THAT your title (0+ / 0-)

                          It's really not a lot to ask for some simple precision in your wording.

                        •  I don't know much about horticulture (0+ / 0-)

                          A perennial and annual are both flowers, so they're both the same as far as I'm concerned.

                          And I don't know much about the universe, so the sun and the moon are both the same as far as I'm concerned.

                          I don't know a lot about brass instruments, so the trumpet and tuba are both the same as far as I'm concerned.

                          And I don't know a lot about textiles, so silk and cotton are the same as far as I'm concerned.

                          What you don't know about a topic does not make you an expert on it, as far as I'm concerned.

                          P.S. I am not a crackpot.

                          by BoiseBlue on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 01:52:32 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  back in my previous life as a freelance writer (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            AoT

                            I did quite a bit of research into chemical weapons and did a number of magazine articles, both in regards to the binary nerve gas debate during the Reagan years, and to the proliferation of chemical weapons to places like Syria, Iraq, Thailand, and Taiwan. I had some sources in the Pentagon, and also in anti-proliferation groups like SIPRI. (I kicked around the idea of doing a book on the topic, and wrote up most of a manuscript, but never finished it.)

                            So it's a topic I know a few things about.  :)

                          •  I'm an exporter (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            AoT

                            So it's a topic I know a few things about, as well :-)

                            P.S. I am not a crackpot.

                            by BoiseBlue on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 02:13:24 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

            •  well, I'm against any unilateral US intervention (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              kyril, kurt

              too, but as a matter of factual reality, there's nothing to this.  Flourides are common industrial chemicals with lots of uses, sold around the world by chemical companies everywhere. I'm sure that US, French and German companies sold the same chemicals to Syria as well.  Hell, they're probably selling those chemicals to North Korea too.

              There's no "here" here.

              •  If it didn't matter at all, then the current sale (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                AoT, pat bunny, Senor Frog, scrambler

                to Syria would not be embargoed.

                These chemicals are embargoed specifically because they can be used to create chemical weapons.

                Again, if Assad is a heinous dictator, then why are any countries permitting trade with him? I'm not saying they should.

                 I'm saying they are hypocritical in the extreme to make profits (and improve their foreign trade balances) by selling anything to a country like Syria while simultaneously decrying the awful actions which Syria takes.

                If the customer is that odious, then give up the profits. Stop.

                "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

                by YucatanMan on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 01:08:36 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  There was an oil and arms embargo (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  mahakali overdrive, kyril

                  If there was another one, I am unaware of it and wouldn't bother to be corrected.

                  But there wasn't a general embargo that forbade all trade with Syria.

                  P.S. I am not a crackpot.

                  by BoiseBlue on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 01:15:03 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  These chemicals are considered "dual use" (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    chuckvw, Senor Frog

                    and are covered by the Embargoes and Sanctions on Syria as issued by the European Union.  

                    The link and links within lead to the information necessary.

                    What are ‘dual-use items’?

                    Dual-use Items are goods, software or technology (documents, diagrams etc) which can be used for both civil and military applications. They can range from raw materials to components to complete systems, eg aluminium alloys, bearings, or lasers. They could also be items used in the production or development of military goods or chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, eg machine tools, chemical/manufacturing equipment and computers.

                    "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

                    by YucatanMan on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 01:31:57 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  And your own link explains that (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      kyril, grover

                      if an exporter wants to export embargoed goods to Syria, they must obtain a license to do so, meaning they must validate what they are selling and who they are selling to.

                      Britain granted export licenses to a few companies per their rules, and we know nothing about what they were being used for.

                      Please re-read that link. It is chock-full of useful information for people who are confused about this topic and think that Britain sold chemicals to Syria.

                      P.S. I am not a crackpot.

                      by BoiseBlue on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 01:42:07 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  it's not illegal or prohibited to sell dual use (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      grover

                      chemicals, as long as you get an export license.

                      And those licenses are denied only if it is shown or suspected that the dual use technology is indeed going to chemical weapons.  Flouride chemicals are used in everything from toothpaste to plastic.  There's no indication anywhere that any of the British chemicals were ever sold to any Syrian entity with any connection to chemical weapons. If there WAS any such indication, the license would have been denied.

                      You are barking up the wrong tree.

                •  the current embargo is an economic one (0+ / 0-)

                  not a weapons-based one.

                  And if the whole world is to be banned from selling ANYTHING to Syria, what do you expect people in Syria to eat.

                  Or do you plan on starving them.

                  •  Link provided above. You are incorrect about (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    chuckvw, kyril

                    the embargo being solely economic.

                    The arms embargo to Syrian rebel groups was lifted, but not to Assad's Syrian forces.

                    "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

                    by YucatanMan on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 01:33:03 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I'm not incorrect. (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      BoiseBlue

                      Flouride export was never banned under the military embargo, because flouride is not a military product. Neither is rubbing alcohol (even though you can't make nerve gas without it.)

                      INDUSTRIAL CHEMICALS export is banned under economic sanctions.

                      •  First you state that the embargo in not (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        grover

                        a military weapons one:

                        the current embargo is an economic one
                        not a weapons-based one.
                        Then you state that dual use chemicals were not embargoed under "the military embargo"

                        but the truth of the matter is that dual use chemicals are embargoed under sanctions as specified at the link provided (and perhaps left unread?):

                        The EU has also imposed a further implementing measure - Council Regulation (EU) No 509/2012 - which came into force on 17 June 2012. This measure, which also amends Council Regulation EU (No 36/2012) imposes a prohibition on the sale, supply, transfer or export of listed luxury goods and certain dual-use items and chemicals.
                        Whether it is military or economic is your own personal word game. The fact is that dual-use chemicals are embargoed. End of story.

                        That is the reason that the UK revoked licenses for exporting these chemicals to Syria: because they are embargoed by the EU trade sanctions.

                        At any rate, the specific chemicals under discussion are listed

                        UK Military List (Note: 275 page PDF)

                        UK Strategic Export Control Lists

                        The consolidated list of strategic military and dual-use items
                        that require export authorisation.

                                             March 2013 SCHEDULE 2

                           Schedule referred to in Article 2 of the Export Control Order 2008

                                  MILITARY GOODS, SOFTWARE AND TECHNOLOGY

                             [Page 107 of 275]
                        1C350 Chemicals, which may be used as precursors for toxic chemical agents, as follows, and "chemical mixtures" containing one or more thereof:

                        ...

                        14.   Potassium fluoride   (7789-23-3);

                        ...
                             [Page 108 of 275]
                        43.   Sodium fluoride     (7681-49-4);

                        (and many many more)

                        Again, that's from the UK Strategic Export Control Lists   ---   The consolidated list of strategic military and dual-use items that require export authorisation.

                        Just in case there's any question as to how these things are categorized by the UK.

                        "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

                        by YucatanMan on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 02:18:14 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Dude, I have mad respect for you (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          grover

                          But what you're not understanding is that although there is an embargo, exporters can get a license to move goods despite the embargo.

                          I have no simpler way to explain it.

                          The US has sanctions against Iran and Cuba, but don't kid yourself; we still export goods to them when there is a good reason to do so.

                          This is no different than that.

                          P.S. I am not a crackpot.

                          by BoiseBlue on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 02:32:28 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  I agree completely and always have complete (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            grover

                            respect for you as well. I don't know why I've even cared about this for so many comments, but here's the thing:  The information is in steps:

                            Step 1:  EU Trade Restrictions on Syria

                            Extent of restrictive measures imposed on Syria

                            There are extensive trade restrictions on Syria. These include an arms embargo, which is a ban on the export of ‘arms and related material’ (ie military ammunition, weapons and goods). This can be put in place by either the UN, the EU, the Organisation on Security and Co-operation in Europe, or at a UK national level.

                            The UK interprets an arms embargo as covering all goods and items on the UK Military List (which forms part of the UK Strategic Control Lists), unless stated otherwise. For more information see the guide on the UK Strategic Export Control Lists - the consolidated list of strategic military and dual-use items.

                            Step 2:  US Strategic Export Control List

                            Appropriate section already quoted. (Reading this section alone, or the Exports link alone, reads as though licenses may be obtained for the chemicals on the list, which is correct in all cases where there is not an embargo, but there is.)

                            Conclusion:  The chemicals found on the military section of the UK Strategic Export Control List are part of the "arms embargo" as interpreted by the UK.

                            Were the chemicals never delivered?  Probably not from what we know. Were they intended for making Sarin, for which they are well suited? Probably not from what we know.

                            But the Point:

                            If the US and our allies are so upset about chemical weapons being used by Syria, we (the UK) certainly have not been very careful about making it possible for them to have quantities of chemical weapons all along.

                             It is hypocritical of the UK, for example, to say, "chemical weapons are horrible," while permitting the export of the exact chemicals needed to create them. The exact same chemicals listed on their Military list of precursors to chemical weapons.  

                            (Rubbing alcohol is not on that list, btw.)

                            Anyway, that's my point.

                             * No, I don't advocate starving the Syrian people.  If the US does anything, we should parachute humanitarian supplies of food and medicine into ALL parts of Syria, regardless of "side" because there are so many sides and the lines move all the time.

                             * No, I don't think we have an ethical leg to stand on after using horrific weapons against civilian populations, for example, in Fallujah.

                             * No, I don't think that US bombing will do anything to deter Assad who is determined to stay in power by any means possible.

                             * If we truly had humanitarian concerns, we would have stopped Assad long ago, when he began torturing children to death. But we've let this go on until 100,000 dead have piled up on both sides and the so-called "rebels" have also committed unspeakable acts.

                            It is just too far gone and too deeply muddled by evil actors on all sides and our actual enemies being among the rebels themselves. There's no clear path.

                            Under those circumstances, best not to bomb anyone.

                            "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

                            by YucatanMan on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 03:34:03 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                        •  you are mistaken (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          grover

                          Dual-use chemicals are not embargoed.  They can be sold anywhere by anyone, as long as you get an export license first. The reason for the export license is to insure that the dual-use is going for ordinary uses, and is not being used for prohibited purposes like chemical weapons.

                          I find it massively unlikely that any of these British shipments were used for chemical weapons. First, if it were intended for military uses the Syrians would do everything in their ability to hide the fact that they were the end-user, and would use a whole series of cut-outs and trans-shipments to hide the ultimate endpoint (just as Iraq and Libya did). Second, I find it impossible to believe that after manufacturing chemical weapons for over 40 years now, Syria's military would NOT have its own domestic facilities for manufacturing all the chemicals it needs, both for security and for quality-control reasons. I find it implausible to say the least that they'd still be buying their ingredients on the open world market.

                          I find it impossible to believe that this sale was for anything other than plain ole ordinary industrial chemicals for making toothpaste or whatever.  Nothing else.

  •  Do these chemicals (12+ / 0-)

    have constructive industrial uses? Were these recurring sales to established industries. Those would be useful questions to ask.

    So much about this situation is reminiscent of Iraq and the claims about supplies.  

  •  NaF and KF (10+ / 0-)

    also have other applications of totally civilian nature (e. g. in our plant we use NaF).

    So thus selling this stuff doesnt consitute helping with nerve gas production supplies. It would have to be made plausibel in some or other way that that was actually what it was used for by the recipients in Syria.

    •  When a country is none to create (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      YucatanMan, Senor Frog

      Chemical Weapons for military purposes it seem better to not sell them supplies that will help them build those weapons than to attack them after they've used them.

      If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

      by AoT on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 12:01:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  the problem is though that most of the ingredients (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        grover, kurt

        in nerve gas are plain ole ordinary common industrial chemicals, like isopropyl alcohol, sulfur, and flourides.

        It's simply impossible to stop any country anywhere from obtaining such common chemicals.

      •  I sent ads to Saddam Hussein once. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AoT, grover, kurt

        Right before Desert Shield, no less. I was contracted by General Dynamics to do a calendar showing their troop carrier vehicles. I still have the addressing label stuff around here somewhere, Saddam's address, all his top generals, etc.
        Some of the calendars was postmarked undeliverable, returned, because, as the Post Office explained in a note, it was in a mailing tube about the size of a LAW rocket launcher, and Desert Shield had started as they got some the mailing tubes. They obviously declined the mailing.
        Heh, I was just a smuck in advertising, what did I know?  

    •  Um.. "Known to created" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      YucatanMan, DRo

      I don't no how that happened.

      If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

      by AoT on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 12:03:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  no issue I understood :) (5+ / 0-)

        I just dont think this amounts to evidence of wrongdoing (yet).

        From Richard Lyons linked article,

        The chemicals were exported only after officials were "100% certain" that they were going to a private company for industrial use, and none other.
        The explanation for the sales to Syria may be watertight.
        unfortunately that (older) article doesnt give any details,

        From your own linked article,

        the chemicals are in powder form and highly toxic. The licences specified that they should be used for making aluminium structures such as window frames.

        Professor Alastair Hay, an expert in environmental toxicology at Leeds University, said: “They have a variety of industrial uses.

        “But when you’re making a nerve agent, you attach a fluoride element and that’s what gives it its toxic properties.

        “Fluoride is key to making these munitions.

        “Whether these elements were used by Syria to make nerve agents is something only subsequent investigation will reveal.”

        "Just F" ? Be aware that Syria has rather large expanses of salt pans and can get fluor if it wants from its own territory. They´d have to mine and process it though and its entirely logical that they´d rather buy it from the market if they just need it for anything. Anything.

        Whether there´s any issue here depends entirely on what the Syrians actually used it for and I can see no evidence for that in what you linked to.

  •  I dont know how Sarin production works (4+ / 0-)

    but lets assume for a thought experiment that water was a substance that was somehow used during Sarin gas production. (Actually not so unlikely).

    Now someone sells water to Syria. Are they then culpable of supporting Syrian nerve gas production?

    •  If the chemistry is such that (3+ / 0-)

      the intended use can be surmised
      that's one thing ,
      but if they are buying chemicals that are used for many things ,
      that's another story .

      "please love deeply...openly and genuinely." A. H.

      by indycam on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 12:06:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I Thought The Reason The West Was... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      IreGyre, nancyjones, AoT

      collecting all this metadata was to be able to connect the dots in order to protect us? How is Syria (not on the friendliest of terms with the West) not on a watchlist that would stop these kinds of dual use purchases, especially once the conflict started?  Guess businesses get a free pass and only people are under that kind of scrutiny.  

      Now the UK and the US look like they were rushing to strike Syria in order to cover their tracks.  Fair assessment or not, as a Westerner, it sickens me that the death of so many people, especially the children, may be because we free citizens haven't given our politicians the firm kick in the pants they obviously deserve.

      “I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.” – - Thomas Jefferson, 1791

      by Senor Frog on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 12:18:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Remind me of the Penn and Teller episode (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Roadbed Guy

      When they asked people to sign a petition banning dihydrogen monooxide......

      Queror Ergo Sum. -- Rene Descartes Shakshuka

      by The Revenge of Shakshuka on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 12:44:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cville townie

    "please love deeply...openly and genuinely." A. H.

    by indycam on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 12:01:59 PM PDT

  •  Isopropyl Alchohol (7+ / 0-)

    is used for sarin production as well. Should we ban the export of it as well, since it also has potential for use in chemical weapons?

  •  Dude, that's like selling people stuff OTC that (15+ / 0-)

    they use to make meth.  You're not going to get mad at someone for selling a household product that someone turned into meth.  Like the above comments state, these chemicals have other civilian uses as well.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 12:06:42 PM PDT

    •  that is indeed a very good analogy ./nt (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      grover
    •  Well (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AoT

      If you sell too much of it OTC to a meth producer you're going to face consequences.  

    •  Have you tried to buy any of the products (0+ / 0-)

      that people make meth with these days?

      And the same sort of sales were banned months later. That says something to me.

      If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

      by AoT on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 01:12:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Again, that is not true (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Susan G in MN

        Please stop spreading falsehoods. You don't know the topic that you're writing about so please stop.

        The sales weren't banned. Export licenses were denied. These are two entirely different things.

        P.S. I am not a crackpot.

        by BoiseBlue on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 01:26:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  They were covered under sanctions (0+ / 0-)

          and assuch export licenses were denied. Effectively the same thing as far as I'm concerned.

          If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

          by AoT on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 01:29:25 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  But you don't understand the rules and issues (0+ / 0-)

            surrounding the topic, so it means nothing that it's the same thing to you. A major and minor are the same thing to someone who knows nothing about music. That doesn't mean that they are indeed the same thing.

            P.S. I am not a crackpot.

            by BoiseBlue on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 01:43:54 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  it's not even remotely the same thing (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            grover

            Flourides are industrial chemicals.  Period.  They were not banned under military embargoes because they are not military products. Anyone, anywhere, can export any dual use chemical to anyone--as long as they get an export license first.

            Flourides CAN be banned under economic sanctions because they are industrial (i.e., economic) products.

            That is a rather large difference.

            •  I've updated the diary (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              grover

              Not sure if I should bother changing the title further.

              Thank you for your information.

              If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

              by AoT on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 01:56:59 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I'm happy to help, but your diary is still (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                AoT, grover

                barking up the wrong tree.  :)

                Nobody sold Syria any "ingredients to make chemical weapons". Most of the chemical companies on earth--British, French, German and American--sold plain ole ordinary industrial chemicals to Syria, which Syria then used to produce chemical weapons.  It's like Walmart selling me Draino, which I then use to make crystal meth.

                The implied message of your diary, is simply wrong.

                •  That's why I put ingredients in quotes (0+ / 0-)

                  Becaue technically they are ingredients. And technically they were sold to Syria. But your explanation is very good. Thank you.

                  If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

                  by AoT on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 02:18:35 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  ok now I see the paragraph you added at the bottom (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    AoT, BoiseBlue

                    I shall cease fire.

                    :)

                    Make no mistake---British, French, German and American companies DID sell Syria everything it needed to produce its own chemical weapons, just as they did Libya, Iraq, and a few others. They just didn't know that's what they were doing, since it was all just plain ole ordinary industrial chemicals and/or ordinary pesticide-manufacturing equipment.

      •  You can still buy sudafed (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AoT, Senor Frog

        but you have to go to the pharmacy counter and show ID and they write down all your info. And you can only buy one box at a time.

        (I do this maybe once a year, because it's my go-to for the one bad cold a year.)

        So yes, it's like export controls for dual-use chemicals. Except that the guy who's trying to buy the sudafed is also on a list of known meth dealers. . . .and I'm guessing CVS wouldn't sell it in that case.

      •  Fwiw (0+ / 0-)

        (And yes, I did note your update and apology but thought I'd comment), Costco has a ginormous bottle of Drano discounted $4.50 right now.

        That's a meth ingredient. Walk in. Buy it. Leave. No problemo.

        Most meth ingredients aren't as controlled as Sudafed.

        © grover


        So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

        by grover on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 10:45:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  How would that be pertinent? (7+ / 0-)

    Sodium flouride goes in your toothpaste. Potassium flouride is used to make polyurethane, etching glass, and disinfectants, among myriad other uses. Both are used in metal finishing, for which the UK says issued the licenses...made clear in areport to Parliament in July. As the report to Parliament made clear, those sales occurred months before the EC restricted exports. The licenses were then revoked.

    Aside from the fact that the Parliament had the info, I'm not sure why that should have informed anyone's vote. Does the fact that the UK exported potential (dual-use) precursors somehow make the UK complicit?

    Unless there's an allegation that the gov't had any clue that the chemicals might be used to produce nerve agents (and I imagine there's no known proof they were even used that way), I don't see how you could say the UK is in any way liable for Syria's usage of the gas.

    Moreover, I don't think I know what to make of it, even if you could argue the UK bears some blame. If so, does that mean the UK had no moral/legal standing to take action to punish Syria? Or, should it mean that the UK has an even higher responsibility to take actions to prevent or deter the future usage of those munitions?

    You could argue either way -- but, even if you thought that some British gov't officials might bear legal responsibility for exports that shouldn't have been allowed, I don't think that should give the Syrians a free pass. I would think that it should force the Parliament to consider whether the UK have an even higher moral duty and responsibility to the Syrian people to take forceful action.

    Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you: Armisticeproject.org

    by FischFry on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 12:10:00 PM PDT

    •  asdf (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Shockwave, AoT, churchylafemme
      Professor Alastair Hay, an expert in environmental toxicology at Leeds University, said: “They have a variety of industrial uses.

      “But when you’re making a nerve agent, you attach a fluoride element and that’s what gives it its toxic properties.

      “Fluoride is key to making these munitions.

      “Whether these elements were used by Syria to make nerve agents is something only subsequent investigation will reveal.”

      "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

      by YucatanMan on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 12:15:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  well, the problem is that flouride is a common (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Tony Situ

        chemical with lots of other uses.  It's impossible to make nerve gas without rubbing alcohol, too-----yet nobody could possibly ban the sale or import of of rubbing alcohol.

        •  I can mke rubbing alchohol at home (0+ / 0-)

          rather easily. I doubt the same can be said of these chemicals.

          If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

          by AoT on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 01:13:01 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Syria already makes them (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Tony Situ, BoiseBlue

            Do you think there are no chemical plants in Syria?  They fractionate OIL, for crissakes.

            PS--you can make nerve gas at home too.  Just like the Aum Shinbrirkyo cult in Japan did. From plain ole ordinary chemicals that you can buy online--hell, half of them you can buy in a Walmart.

            You are barking up the wrong tree here.  (shrug)

            •  oh, let me correct my typo--should be (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              AoT

              "Aum Shinrikyo".

              As I understand it (and if I recall correctly), they made their nerve gas by using industrial flourides to make a chemical called "difluour", which makes Sarin when mixed with rubbing alcohol.  Their stuff wasn't very pure though, so apparently they didn't do a very good job of it.

              It's the same ingredients the US used in its binary nerve gas artillery shell (in a "binary" weapon, the two components are kept separate so they are safer, and only mix to form nerve gas after the shell is fired and on its way to the target).

    •  It was pertinent enough that they were later force (0+ / 0-)

      to revoke the licenses. So obviously someone thought it mattered.

      And I'm not sure where the idea that this would somehow give the Syrian government a free pass. If the government has used chemical weapons there is no "free pass." That doesn't make this information unimportant. Syria was known to have chemical weapons, and was in a civil war. Selling precrsors to them seems like the height of stupidity.

      If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

      by AoT on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 12:50:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  flourides are "precursors" to nerve gas in the (0+ / 0-)

        same sense that Draino is a "precursor" to crystal meth, or that yeast is a "precursor" to moonshine.

        The British chemical company no more "helped" Assad make nerve gas by selling them flouride than the local CVS "helps" meth labs make crystal meth by selling them Draino.

        There's no "here", here.  

      •  What I am asking is why would that affect UK vote? (0+ / 0-)

        I get that the fact the shipments occurred has significance.

        The question is why should it have any significance in deciding whether and how to respond the use of nerve gas?

        Why should it matter how they got the chemicals? Do we decide to prosecute a murder depending on how the killer got the gun? The relevant questions relate to how and why the killer used the gun, not how he got it.

        Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you: Armisticeproject.org

        by FischFry on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 06:46:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I hope the UN has samples of the English chemicals (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DRo, marsanges, AoT

    Some chemicals have the same chemical makeup but are identifiably slightly different, in terms of adulterants and dilution chemistry. That may provide a tattletale.
    The UN inspectors collected samples that are now being analyzed. The specific chemical fingerprint will reveal a lot about the source of the chemicals.
    If it turned out that the English chemicals turned up in the weapons, that would be a pretty clear sign that the attack was perpetrated by the Syrian Govt.

    If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

    by CwV on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 12:13:40 PM PDT

  •  The UN (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    IreGyre

    should be able to say if the agent residue found was a homebrew DIY thingie, or a finished, state manufactured  munition.  Won't answer "who did it" but might point to some leads.

  •  This could be the excuse we finally (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AoT, alain2112, Roadbed Guy, kurt

    need to get rid of Britain once and for all. We never did really get even with them for setting fire to Washington DC in 1814 (assholes).

  •  These are common chemicals (6+ / 0-)

    These common inorganic fluorides have widespread legitimate uses, from solder fluxes to glass etchants to pickling metals to toothpaste formulations to chemistry instruction.  Synthesizing the fluorophosphate nerve agents from them is a long and not particularly easy process.  This strikes me as a straw-man issue rather than a smoking gun.

    -Carl

    •  I don't see it as a smoking gun at all (0+ / 0-)

      The point is not that this proves anything about Syria, it's that Britain was obviously not concerned about chemical weapons a mere year and a half ago. If we're going to enforce international norms on chemical weapons then we should start by not selling the necessary chemicals to states that are not signitories to the CWC.

      If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

      by AoT on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 12:55:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  you misunderstand the situation (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ballerina X

        The chemicals necessary to make nerve gas are all common industrial chemicals with hundreds of other uses.  Among the "chemicals necessary to make nerve gas" are plain old ordinary rubbing alcohol. And plain old ordinary sulphur.  

        There is simply no way, none at all whatsoever, to stop selling those chemicals to every country on the planet.

  •  This is complete nonsense (10+ / 0-)

    Fluoride salts are added to toothpaste, and have vast number of other uses.  While it is true that diisopropylfluorophosphate contains fluorine atoms, and also contains compounds related to isopropanol, selling the Syrians fluoride salts and rubbing alcohol is not selling them nerve gas or a meaningful set of critical components.

    Restore the Fourth! Save America!

    by phillies on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 12:32:00 PM PDT

  •  Did UK have sanctions in place at the time? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Christin, mahakali overdrive

    My  understanding is that these chemicals have other uses besides creating weapons, and there were no sanctions against UK companies selling these chemicals to Syria in place at the time the license to make the sales were granted.

    As soon as the EU did begin economic sanctions against Syria, including barring the sale of such chemicals to Syria, the licenses in question were revoked.

    I'm not sure there's much of a "scandal" here.

  •  in the interests of accuracy . . . . (6+ / 0-)

    Flourides are very common industrial chemicals and can be purchased anywhere by anybody. They are used to etch glass, as disinfectants, as a catalyst in manufacturing polyurethane plastics, and as an ingredient in manufacturing pesticides.

    Syria, Libya and Iraq all got their nerve gas the same way----they purchased plain old ordinary pesticide-manufacturing equipment, openly and legally, from Europe and the US, then modified that equipment themselves to produce nerve gas (which is chemically similar to bug spray).

    The idea that "the British/French/Americans/whoever sold nerve gas ingredients to Syria/Libya/Iraq", is not really true. They did nothing more than sell plain old ordinary industrial chemicals, the same ones they sell to every other country on earth.

    PS--this is not new news---we knew way back in the 70's that several countries were using modified pesticide-production equipment to make nerve gas. But since those industrial chemicals were so common and so widely available from so many sources, there was simply no way to stop it.

    •  The equipment is so common too (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Christin

      no way to stop that either.

      •  yes indeed. one of the biggest difficulties in (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Christin, AoT, kurt

        negotiating the Chemical Weapons Convention back in the 80's was that it's really hard to tell the difference between a chemical plant that is making nerve gas and a chemical plant that is making plain ole bug spray. The US was insisting on a big long list of inspections, which the USSR refused to allow --mostly because the US also insisted on the idiotic condition that such inspections would only apply to government-owned facilities, making the entire Soviet chemical industry (all owned by the state) subject to inspection but NO private chemical plants in the US (such as defense contractors).

        The issue was finally resolved when technological methods were found that could distinguish what was being manufactured by studying its waste water without having to go into the plant.

        •  Since Syria is not a signatory to the CWC (0+ / 0-)

          I'm not sure how that matters. They would never have been subject to inspections, to my knowledge. You are obviously better acquanted with the subject so correct me if I'm wrong.

          If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

          by AoT on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 01:07:51 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Syria is a signatory to the 1925 Geneva Protocols (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            AoT

            As for examining their waste water to find the chemical weapons plants, the US can do that (and presumably has done that, over the past few decades) without Syria's permission or knowledge. So it's a safe bet that the US knows the precise location of every nerve gas plant in Syria.

            •  Is bombing a remedy under the Geneva Protocols? (0+ / 0-)

              My understanding is that the Protocols do not justify some other country taking military action just because one of the signatories uses a prohibited substance. I'm not sure if the Protocol has an "or else" clause, but would assume it's through the UN.

              That's probably a good thing, given the number of times the US and its allies have used napalm, Agent Orange, white phosphorus, depleted uranium, and (allies including Saddam when he was our guy) mustard gas and sarin.

              •  the Protocols do not set the punishment for (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                AoT, kurt

                violations.  That is up to "international authorities" (i.e., the UN) to set.

                Yes, the use of military force is one of the options that can be used against violators.

                That's probably a good thing, given the number of times the US and its allies have used napalm, Agent Orange, white phosphorus, depleted uranium, and (allies including Saddam when he was our guy) mustard gas and sarin.
                It is questionable whether napalm, agent orange and white phosphorus are "chemical weapons" as defined by the 1925 Protocols and the Chemical Weapons Convention--that has been the subject of much argument. It depends a lot on the exact circumstances under which they are used. (The US did admit that some of its use of phosphorus in Iraq was illegal under the Conventions.) Depleted uranium is NOT a chemical weapon as defined by the treaties. As for Iraq's use of nerve gas, it was blatantly illegal, and it was the US which blocked any punishment for that.

                The fact that the US has indeed screamed to "enforce international law" against countries it does not like, while blocking the enforcement of those same international laws against countries it DOES like (including itself), is my primary reason why the US should NOT be allowed to become the world's self-appointed police force, and should NOT be allowed to unilaterally enforce any international law without prior authorization from the UN or NATO.

    •  Syria is not a signitory to the CWC and as such (0+ / 0-)

      the idea that there is some interntional norm against chemical weapons is completely undermined by selling precursors to a state that is known to produce them. The point is that the US and Britain only talked about chemical weapons as a problem that required action when it was military action.

      If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

      by AoT on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 01:05:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Guys, export licenses are required for trade (4+ / 0-)

    between nations, and nearly anything that can be exported can also be potentially dangerous. Britain probably granted the licenses because the chemicals were being used by other companies in Syria.

    To put this in perspective: the US is still allowing exports to Egypt even though there is essentially a civil war taking place there.

    The licenses were probably tone-deaf, but there's not a lot of there there. Most chemicals have multiple uses. That these were exported to Syria doesn't mean that they were used for the purpose of murder.

    P.S. I am not a crackpot.

    by BoiseBlue on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 12:44:02 PM PDT

    •  Yes, we are alowing the export to Egypt (0+ / 0-)

      of tear gas, along with other things the police have been using to attack protesters with. And Syria is a non-signatory state to the CWC.

      If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

      by AoT on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 01:06:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm sorry, I'm going to have to jump out of this (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        marsanges

        diary. Nearly everyone commenting is completely clueless as to how international trade works, and this diary is an embarrassment to this site.

        For the record, I am unequivocally and without reservation opposed to a war with Syria, but we don't need to distort facts and outright lie in order to build a case against it.

        Critical thinking is necessary. And I've lost a lot of respect for you today, that you won't even change your diary title and let something so absurd stay out in the open.

        There is absolutely no evidence that Britain sold chemicals to Syria. None. They issued export licenses to British companies, who were exporting commonly-used chemicals. Those are two entirely different things.

        Coca-Cola steals water from already thirsty nations in order to bottle Coke there. You wouldn't write a diary saying "US stealing water from drought-ravaged Nigeria," would you? I don't know. Maybe you would.

        P.S. I am not a crackpot.

        by BoiseBlue on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 01:22:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Honestly, the issue of Coke and water (0+ / 0-)

          is a pretty big deal. Although I'd say that the oil companies' actions in Nigeria are far worse.

          You wouldn't write a diary saying "US stealing water from drought-ravaged Nigeria," would you? I don't know. Maybe you would.
          Well, obviously not now. Damn, you just stole my next rec list diary;)
          that you won't even change your diary title and let something so absurd stay out in the open.
          What was it that you suggested I change it to? I'm not getting the issue here. Are these only banned now for economic reasons?
          They issued export licenses to British companies, who were exporting commonly-used chemicals. Those are two entirely different things.
          This I disagree with. British companies importing to Syria is a good as Britain doing so. All arms sold from the US come from private companies. Does that mean thatthe US is not the largest international arms dealer?

          If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

          by AoT on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 01:35:34 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  indeed, most of the commenters here are jumping (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BoiseBlue

          the gun (and perhaps the shark).

          Flourides are no more "ingredients for chemical weapons" than water is. Or rubbing alcohol.

          There's no "here" here. (shrug)

        •  If there's nothing to it why did they suspend (0+ / 0-)

          the licences to sell these particular chemicals to syria 10 months after the slaughter began?

          If work was a good thing, the rich would have it all and not let you do it. -- Elmore Leonard

          by voroki on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 01:48:30 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  because an economic embargo was put in place, (0+ / 0-)

            and those industrial chemicals fall under that economic embargo.  They are used to manufacture everything from glass drinking cups to baby diapers.

            They were NOT embargoed as "military" products, because they are NOT "military" products.  They are plain old ordinary industrial chemicals.  You yourself can buy them online right here in the US from any chemical company (though the stuff is pretty dangerous to handle so the chemical company might not want to sell it to private individuals for liability purposes). There's nothing illegal about it.

            You are barking up the wrong tree.

            •  They were embargoed as "dual use" (0+ / 0-)

              from what I can tell. But that category is extremely broad and includes things like PCs and even some console gaming systems. Correct me if I'm wrong on that though.

              If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

              by AoT on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 02:21:43 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Because facts on the ground change? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            AoT

            Your question is worded in a way that there can be multiple answers.

            The simplest answer is that the goods were exported for commercial use, and there was no reason to deny a license to export them for that reason. I used this example above: it could be something as innocuous as a Colgate plant stationed in Syria that bought the product and there was no reason to deny the license. Then the war in Syria ratcheted up and Britain faced pressure to deny the licenses in the event that months later people would write blogs declaring that Britain sold deadly chemicals to Syria.

            P.S. I am not a crackpot.

            by BoiseBlue on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 02:23:59 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  ps--Israel has not ratified the CWC either (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BoiseBlue

        We sell them rubbing alcohol, I'll bet.

        North Korea is a signatory.  I bet we sell them rubbing alcohol.

        •  Okay, thanks (0+ / 0-)

          And I'm a fool today.

          If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

          by AoT on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 01:44:08 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  let me correct myself here . . . (0+ / 0-)
          North Korea is a signatory.  I bet we sell them rubbing alcohol.
          Actually I don't think North Korea ever signed the Chemical Weapons Convention.  "Korea" signed the 1925 Geneva Protocol---I assume that when North Korea was established, it routinely accepted all the diplomatic agreements that "Korea" had signed previously.

          But I bet we still sell them rubbing alcohol.  ;)

  •  Damn Internet elephant memory (0+ / 0-)

    Making life so difficult for the powers that be.

    Before we point fingers at President Obama, we ought to point them at ourselves.

    by Sucker Politics on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 12:47:31 PM PDT

  •  How about BREAKING: North Korea provides (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mahakali overdrive, AoT

    direct assistance to Syria and it's chem weapons program (rather than a very common industrial chemical)?  

    http://www.slate.com/...

    Or is it just about "The West is hypocritical?"

    To be free and just depends on us. Victor Hugo.

    by dizzydean on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 01:13:07 PM PDT

  •  Agree and disagree (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AoT

    The fluoride salts are so common it's probably impossible to stop anybody from getting them, but it is a required precursor for nerve gas and you better be able to justify your export license if you're selling it.

  •  Interested to know how this matters... (0+ / 0-)

    when it comes to the complicity of whoever used the chemical weapons.

    Or is this just another gotcha attempt to sensationalize and promote a biased view as if the UK is now responsible?

    •  The point is not that the UK is suddenly complicit (0+ / 0-)

      it's that they're selling these things to a country which has refused to sign onto the CWC and was known to have chemical weapons, or at least variuos countries claimed the had them whether there was proof I'm not sure.

      If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

      by AoT on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 01:38:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  :-) (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AoT, BoiseBlue, marsanges, kurt

    Kudos to you for updating rather than trying to argue a lost cause!

    I was also highly titillated by the initial reports and then looked up other uses of the chemicals. I got distracted but then clicked on this diary to see that others were answering the questions I had. So, all in all, not a total loss!

  •  Now I am tempted (6+ / 0-)

    to rec this diary, for the unusual humility of the update :)  Very good that you came around!

  •  ps--as far as whether those specific chemicals (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BoiseBlue, AoT

    were used in the Syrian chemical weapons programs, it is almost certain that they were not. The Syrians would not want their "weapons" stuff to be easily traced, so they'd use a whole series of cut-outs and false companies, and very likely trans-shipments through a number of different countries, to hide their tracks.

    With 99.99% probability, in my view, those chemicals were just plain ole ordinary industrial chemicals, the kind that are sold around the world every day.

    Indeed, I'd be awfully surprised if the Syrians were not manufacturing their OWN flourides specifically for use in the chemical weapons program, solely as a security measure. (And possibly a quality-control measure, since they would want to avoid the problems Iraq had with the impurities in their finished GB.)

    •  Yup (0+ / 0-)

      If you want to commit a crime, you don't make it traceable. Buying goods from a licensed exporter makes it blatantly traceable.

      The Syrian government may be wicked, but I have to doubt it's so stupid as to buy a ton of their ingredients through the market.

      P.S. I am not a crackpot.

      by BoiseBlue on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 02:36:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  IT MUST BE MADE CLEAR (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AoT, Sky Net

    as it is in the front page article in tomorrow's Independent, that no chemicals were actually exported as the revoking of the export licence took place before they could be shipped.

    We will work, we will play, we will laugh, we will live. We will not waste one moment, nor sacrifice one bit of our freedom, because of fear.

    by Lib Dem FoP on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 02:56:02 PM PDT

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