Three Belgian companies which exported banned chemicals to Syria are to be fined, while two of the three companies’ heads will be sent to prison.
The chemicals in question included hundreds of tonnes of concentrated isopropanol, acetone, methanol and dichloromethane, Al-Khaleej reported yesterday, citing Belgian media. Though the companies claimed these products can be used to create paint and polish, they can also be used to produce chemical weapons, including sarin.
Sarin, which has been banned since the 1993 chemical weapons convention (CWC), is made through a reaction between isopropanol and methylphosphonyl difluoride.
The companies’ decision to export these chemicals was in violation of regulation banning the export, sale, supply or transfer of certain goods which might be used for internal repression, or the manufacture and maintenance of products which might be used for such purposes. This regulation notably listed chemicals such as isopropanol and acetone.
The companies – AAE Chemie Trading, Anex Customs and Danmar Logistics – have claimed they acted in good faith, arguing they did not know about the ban on these materials and that Belgian customs never informed them about prior authorisation requirements.
It is expected that the sentence against the three Belgian companies will be issued by 31 January.