Op-Ed: Exposé: Iran and Syria's Nerve Gas is Made in Europe
Giulio MeottiThe writer, an Italian journalist with Il Foglio, writes a twice-weekly...
Syria threatens to use chemical weapons, including lethal gas and germs, against "external forces". And the unthinkable becomes much more concrete in Israel.
The gas mask distribution centers have increased their activities in the last few days. Health authorities may start inoculation of soldiers and emergency care personnel against smallpox. Family drug kits, including antibiotics against anthrax, may be delivered door-to-door. The Education Ministry will prepare material for all students instructing them on the ABC's of chemical and biological warfare. The message is clear: Israel should be prepared for the worst.
The Germans used chlorine gas against the Allies in World War I; in 1937, they developed nerve gas, the most deadly of all. Mustard gas was used by the Egyptians in the war with Yemen. But by far the worst were the Iraqis in the Iran-Iraq war, when nerve gas killed untold numbers. Saddam Hussein was also responsible for the gassing of thousands of Kurdish civilians in 1988.
The sarin gas attacks by the Aum Shinrikyo cult in Japan in 1994-1995, the anthrax attack in the United States in October 2001 and the chlorine attacks by al-Qaida in Iraq in 2006-2007 are a few examples that serve to remind us that the use of weapons of mass destruction can be a reality in today's Middle East.
Already in May 2011, then US Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned about the possibility that Hizbullah is armed with chemical warheads. Syria's stockpiles could fall into the hands of al-Qaeda, which is involved in the fighting, a military faction, or a post-Assad regime controlled by Islamists.
It's the worst kind of nightmare.
A four milligram droplet of VX kills in under an hour. The first symptoms include drooling, sweating, difficulty breathing and the constriction of pupils to zombie pinpoints. Then come gastrointestinal spasms, vomiting, convulsions and asphyxiation. Unlike other nerve gases, such as sarin, VX evaporates slowly so winds can't blow it away. And unlike sarin, VX penetrates the skin.
What very few people know is that European companies and scientists gave Iran, Syria, Libya and Iraq the material to attempt to kill the Jews, again.
In 1992 a 100-page report, prepared by the Paris-based Middle East Defence News, listed about 300 European firms which the centre said it believed had "played a significant role in the unconventional weapons programmes in Iran, Syria and Libya".
Germany topped the list of suppliers with 100, the report said, then 29 French, 22 British, 13 Italian and 13 Swiss.
German companies have played a crucial role in helping Iran to build a chemical weapons industry, and have illegally supplied nerve gas precursor chemicals," the report said. It said France had played a "crucial role...in helping Syria to develop both a chemical weapons and a biological weapons capability".
The West German firm Degussa supplied of chemicals to Libya used to manufacture poison gas. This company also owned a 42.5 per cent share in the Degesch company, which supplied the Zyklon B gas used in the death camps. Degesch is the acronym for "Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Schaedlingsbekaempfung", a company for the extermination of vermin.
It developed the method of using hydrogen cyanide, Zyklon B, as an ingredient in its fumigation gas for buildings and ships. The gas it supplied to Auschwitz was used in the killing of two million Jews.
"For years, Iraqi officers had asked us how it had been with the gassing of the Jews." said Maj. Gen. Karl-Heinz Nagler, former head of the East German Army's chemical service, who had trained the Iraqi Army in chemical warfare for 15 years.
The manufacturing of di-fluoro - from which nerve gas is obtained - requires resistant glass components. Two German companies gave these to the Syrians.
French scientific institutes also played a role, through scientific exchanges.
In 1988, the Wall Street Journal revealed that German companies sold Saddam what he needed to perfect new types of poison gas, including manufacturing equipment for hydrogen cyanide, the active ingredient of Zyklon B, the gas used in Hitler's crematoriums.
In 1990, members of the German parliament demanded a confidential briefing from Economics Minister Helmut Haussmann. What they heard surpassed their worst fears. Haussmann read off a list of companies believed to have supplied Iraq and Syria with the means to manufacture arms.
A German company was the chief supplier for six plants in Samarra, Iraq, that make nerve and mustard gases, gases already used against the Kurds and the Iranians. We know that some of Saddam's chemical weapons have been moved to Syria.
In 1996, the weekly 'Stern' revealed the German involvement in a toxic gas facility in Aleppo, similar to that of Tarhuna in Libya.
According to Raul Hilberg, the use of pesticides in the Final Solution was no accident. In German propaganda Jews had frequently been portrayed as insects. Hans Frank, Head of the German Occupation Government in Poland, and Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS, had stated that the Jews were parasites who had to be exterminated like vermin.
Today, again, Jews are described by Islamists as sub-humans, with expressions like “pig,” “cancer,” “filth”, “microbes” or “vermin”.
Without the European chemical companies, there would be no Syrian and Iranian germs and gas' threat to Israel.
We can be partners in the Jewish struggle against the new apocalypse. Or we can be part of it. The European companies and scientists have made their choice.
Let's hope that one day we will not have to judge these Europeans responsible for another catastrophe, like the one facilitated with Degesch's Zyklon B.