Syria has repeatedly tried to order Swiss technology – a vacuum pump, valves and a bioreactor – for the production of weapons of mass destruction, the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) said on Monday.
According to a report on Swissinfo.ch, Seco’s export control has rejected 14 export requests worth about CHF1.7 million ($1.8 million) to Syria since 1998. The goods involved can be used for either military or civil purposes, and they required an export permit, said Seco spokeswoman Marie Avet, confirming a report in the Tages-Anzeiger newspaper.
Avet said Seco had “reasons to believe that the goods may be misused by final recipients in Syria for the production of weapons of mass destruction and their carrier systems”.
The Syrian recipients acted as representatives of bogus companies, Seco said, adding that in at least one of the cases the Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC) was behind the scam. The center, which develops and produces weapons of mass destruction, is an institute of President Bashar al-Assad’s government and it has been mentioned in recent US documents about Assad's chemical weapons production.
"We have intelligence that leads us to assess that Syrian chemical weapons personnel – including personnel assessed to be associated with the SSRC – were preparing chemical munitions prior to the attack," said a US Administration fact sheet.
Switzerland received the information about the planned use of the goods from a partner country, according to Seco.
Switzerland has refrained from selling Syria goods that require a permit for five years. It tightened existing sanctions in June 2012, falling into line with decisions taken earlier by the European Union.
Although it is not part of the EU, Bern also added 28 names of individuals to a list of supporters of President Bashar al-Assad whose assets are frozen and who cannot get visas.