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So, Where Did Syria Get Its Chemical Weapons?
Syria's chemical weapons program dates back to the early 1970s when they first acquired materials and expertise from Egypt prior to the 1973 war against Israel. Since then, it is believed that Syria has received assistance with their chemical weapons program from Russia, India, China and various West European countries. Syria's current indigenous capabilities allow it to produce several hundred tons of chemical weapons agents per year. According to the Monterey Institute of International Studies, "Open sources assert that there are at least three Syrian facilities currently engaged in producing CW, located near Damascus, Hama and Safira village."
Curiously, there is little mention of how much chemical agent Syria actually has. There are scattered references to an ability of being able to produce hundreds of tons a year and an estimated CW stockpile of hundreds of tons. But compared to other nations, notably the United States and Russia, it is likely to be very small. Consider that in 1985, Congress mandated that the US destroy more than 98 percent of its chemical weapons stockpile. Yet of the original total of 31,496 tons there remains 24,144 tons to be destroyed.
... The one common characteristic Syria shares with Iraq in regard to its chemical weapons program is the help it received from the West in establishing it. Former CIA director William Webster told a Congressional panel in 1989 that the CIA had determined foreign assistance was of "critical importance in allowing Syria to develop its chemical warfare capability. West European firms were instrumental in supplying the required precursor chemicals and equipment. Without the provision of these key elements, Damascus would not have been able to produce chemical weapons."
Syria's principle suppliers of chemical and biological weapons production technology were large chemical brokerage houses in Holland, Switzerland, France, Austria and Germany, including many of the same companies that were supplying Iraq.
At least one German company, Schott Glasswerke, has been subjected to an official inquiry for its delivery of glass-lined reactor vessels, sarin precursors and production equipment to a suspected Syrian poison gas plant.