Belgium if Compound was exported to Syria probing

Remigio Civitarese
Aprile 20, 2018

Belgian customs agents have brought a case against the firms - a chemicals company, a transporter and an intermediary - who are suspected of exporting isopropanol to Syria and Lebanon without declaring it, a spokeswoman for the finance ministry told AFP. "We have always fully complied with the checks of customs officers at the port of Antwerp", a spokesman for Danmar Logistics said.

A spokesman for the Belgian federal authorities was quoted by The Guardian as saying that the "customs [authority] have established infringements of the law concerning the import, export and transit of goods". Since 2013 companies need a license to export chemicals to Syria.

The European Union has imposed ever-tighter sanctions on Assad, including on the export of several chemicals, since 2013.

Widely used as an industrial solvent and also in some medical products, isopropanol, or rubbing alcohol, is one of two key ingredients for sarin.

Western countries say the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad has used chemical weapons, including sarin, against its own population, most recently on the town of Douma on April 7. But the Belgian customs apparently did not take into account the ban of the International Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons of the United Nations.

Belgian weekly Knack first brought the case to light, reporting that a total of 168 tons of isopropanol had been shipped from Belgium to Syria and Lebanon between mid-2014 and the end of 2016.

The spokesman added that they had no reason to believe the chemicals in question had been used in the production of weapons.

In response to the chemical attack, on 14 April the US, UK and France launched a co-ordinated air campaign.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation.

The organisation is the implementing body of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which entered into force in 1997. 120 tons of isopropanol were destroyed by the OPCW in Syria in 2014.

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