BERLIN: Germany Monday admitted it had approved as recently as 2011 the export to Syria of chemicals that could be weaponized, and in larger amounts than previously known.
Data released by the economy ministry showed that German firms had exported a total of 360 tons of chemicals for either military or civilian use to Syria between 1998 and 2011.
The ministry insisted that it had no evidence the chemicals, which were approved as recently as April 2011, were used in weapons.
“After a comprehensive review of all available information, it can be assumed that the goods were used for civilian purposes by private industry,” it said in a statement.
The ministry did not say which companies had exported the chemicals but said that shipments stopped from May 2011, when sanctions against chemical exports to Syria were imposed.
It had acknowledged two weeks ago that export licenses were granted between 2002 and 2006 for shipments totaling more than 100 tons of so-called dual-use chemicals.
Ministry sources said the chemicals could be used in the surface treatment of metals, fluorination of drinking water and the manufacture of toothpaste.
U.N. chemical weapons inspectors reported in September that banned chemical weapons were used on a large scale in the Syrian civil war, and that evidence showed sarin gas killed hundreds in an opposition-held area near Damascus on Aug. 21.