Syria made numerous attempts to purchase equipment in Switzerland that could have been used to manufacture devastating weapons, a Swiss official said Monday.
Since 1998, the government of Syria made 14 attempted purchases which were flagged and rejected by the Swiss export control watchdog, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs.
Among the items sought for purchase were a bioreactor, an industrial vacuum pump and valves, reported AFP. The State Secretariat’s spokeswoman, Marie Avet, said the 14 rejected deals were worth a total of 1.7 million Swiss francs ($1.7 million).
There were reasons to believe, according to Avet, that the items sought would be used for building weapons, though they could be used for civilian use as well.
Documents released by WikiLeaks show that Syria contacted Swiss manufacturers through front companies, according to reports published Monday in two Swiss newspapers, but that an unidentified third country conveyed to Switzerland that Syria was involved.
Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria has been fighting a two-and-a-half year civil war against opposition groups and rebel forces. Western governments believe that on August 21, the Syrian government fired rockets bearing chemical weapons into residential neighborhoods on the outskirts of Damascus. The US government has stated that over 1,400 people were killed in that attack.