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- Tuesday, February 08, 2011 - From Print Edition


ISLAMABAD. India is the country of choice for states pursuing clandestine biological and chemical weapons programmes, reveal leaked documents on the whistle blowing site WikiLeaks. The exposure of two Indian companies which were in contact with ìa Syrian institution with connection to the countryís chemical and biological weapons programî rang alarm bells in Washington, which approached the Government of India to ensure that an impending deal was scuttled.


The Syrian institution under reference turned out to be the Syrian Scientific Research Center (SSRC), which the classified document describes to be responsible for developing and producing weapons of Mass destruction (WMD) and the missiles to deliver them.


The items required by the Syrians included Australia Group controlled glass lined reactors, heat exchangers and pumps that are used in producing chemical biological warfare agents. Syria is believed to be developing chemical weapons using the lethal nerve agent Sarin and VX, which when inhaled or absorbed through skin shut down the nervous system in less than a minute.


The Indian firms, Goel Scientific Glass Works and Garg Scientific Glass Industries, respectively located at Vadorba and Mumbai, were nominated in a strong worded cable dated December 12, 2008, sent under signatures of the then secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, with instructions to block such clandestine sales. The document also details the modus operandi of the firms, which according to the US document had been involved previously as well in exporting prohibited WMD related items to Syria.


According to the document, the companies involved circumvented the overseeing system by shipping products through carrying and forwarding agents who then forwarded the products to the recipient county. The packages were shipped in inner and outer containers concealing the ultimate destination.


“We are concerned that either firm may attempt to circumvent Indian laws and regulations again When we raised this issue with MEA officials recently we learned that no export control license has been received for such an export to Syria” warned the document.


According to observers the Syrian liaison is not the fist incident of its kind where Indian firms have been involved in facilitating clandestine chemical biological warfare weapons in the Middle Eastern Region. In 2002,


British and US intelligence agencies in their compiled dossiers on Iraq linked NEC, an Indian Engineering Trading Company, to Iraqís clandestine program for developing chlorine based chemical weapons. Using front companies in three countries, phony customs declarations and false documents, the NEC Engineers Private Limited, operating from New Delhi, exported 10 consignments of contraband material to Iraq needed by the country to develop WMD, reported the dossiers.