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July 30, 2012 9:30 am

Syria Used Western Money to Expand Chemical Arsenal

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Chemical weapons collected after Libya's National Transitional Council declared full liberation of the country. Similar weapons are believed to be inside Syria. Photo: Giovanni Diffidenti.

Documents and news reports reveal that Iran helped Syria expand its chemical weapons arsenal, and that aid money provided to Syria by the West was used to purchase more weapons.

According to the Washington Post, the Syrian Ministry of Industry used $14.6 million it received from the European Union in 2010 for technical assistance and equipment in order to expand its chemical weapons program.

“Iran would provide the construction design and equipment to annually produce tens to hundreds of tons of precursors for VX, sarin, and mustard [gas]. Engineers from Iran’s DIO [Defense Industries Organization] were to visit Syria and survey locations for the plants, and construction was scheduled from the end of 2005-2006,” said a U.S. diplomat in a 2006 cable.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is on a five-day trip to the Middle East to meet with U.S. allies and reassure them that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime will collapse soon, that Damascus’s chemical weapons will be secured, and that tighter sanctions will be implemented against Iran, reported the Wall Street Journal. “Our specific goal is to make sure that they are being secured and that they don’t fall into the wrong hands,” Panetta said.

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