Hypocrisy at the heart of the British State

Prime Minister misled Parliament, says local MP

Carmarthenshire Member of Parliament Jonathan Edwards has today accused the Prime Minister of misleading Parliament when he responded to his question on the use of chemical weapons in Syria last month.

When Parliament returned from summer recess, Plaid Cymru MP Jonathan Edwards questioned Prime Minister David Cameron on the chemical weapons arsenal the Assad regime has amassed via the purchase of precursor chemicals from various states around the world. Jonathan Edwards asked the Prime Minister whether he would be investigating why his government had awarded licences to the Assad regime before and after the outbreak of the civil war in Syria.

In response to the Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP the Prime Minister stated the UK’s licensing regime for the export of such chemicals had “worked effectively” and licences for sales to Syria were revoked when the arms export ban was brought in.  “From what I have seen to date our system worked well”, David Cameron said.

Following an investigation by the Sunday Mail it has been revealed this week that two licences were granted to export potassium fluoride and sodium fluoride to Syria in January 2012, almost a year after the start of the country’s civil war.  Both chemicals are components used in the production of sarin gas, which was used to kill hundreds of people in Damascus in August this year.

The UK Government’s Secretary of State for Business, Vince Cable, has since admitted that a British firm was sanctioned to sell chemicals capable of being used to make sarin nerve gas to Awad Ammora and Partners – a company known by the UK government to be associated with the nuclear weapons programme of former Iraq dictator, Saddam Hussein. The newspaper also reported that between July 2004 and May 2010, the UK Government issued five other export licences for sodium fluoride to Syria.

Jonathan Edwards said he believes the Prime Minister has misled Parliament when answering his question on 9 September this year, and went on to condemn both the current and former UK Governments’ hypocrisy in the sale of key components of chemical weapons to despotic regimes.

Plaid Cymru MP for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr constituency, Jonathan Edwards said:

“It’s quite astonishing that the UK government, fully aware of the past associations of this company, would still grant licences for the exporting of key components of chemical weapons.

“Despite raising my concerns in Parliament last month, the Prime Minister gave me his personal reassurance that when the arms export ban on Syria was brought in, the UK government revoked those licences.

“The fact we now know key components of chemical weapons were licenced almost a year after the arms ban was introduced is sickening. It is also sickening that five other export licences for chemical weapon components were granted to Syria during the last six years of the Labour government under both Brown and Blair.

“I believe the Prime Minister has misled Parliament.  Nothing less than a full statement to the House of Commons and an apology to the public will suffice.

“There is hypocrisy at the heart of the British state.  Both the current and previous governments must be held accountable for their actions in providing chemical weapon components to despotic regimes.”

ENDS

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Notes to Editor:

The Sunday Mail states that Between July 2004 and May 2010, the Government issued five other export licences for sodium fluoride to Syria. At the time, Assad was strongly suspected to be stockpiling chemical weapons.  http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/uk-world-news/revealed-saddam-firm-buys-britains-2366063

Jonathan Edwards’ question to the Prime Minister on 9th September 2013, and the response can be seen here: http://www.jonathanedwards.org.uk/g20-summit-question-to-the-prime-minister?lang=en

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