Leaked cable warns of Syrian attempt to create bioweapons

A recently leaked cable dated December 30, 2008 details the United States' investigation into an attempt by a Syrian institution to purchase certain materials from two Indian firms that could be used as components for chemical or biological weapons.

According to the cable, two Indian firms were visited by the Syrian group twice over the course of the three months leading up to the cable. The author of the cable believes the deal was close to completion at that time, The Guardian reports.

“The U.S. has obtained information indicating that a Syrian institution with connections to the country’s chemical and biological weapons programs is attempting to acquire Australia Group-controlled gas-lined reactors, heat exchangers and pumps from (two) Indian firms,” the cable said, according to The Guardian.

The cable says that the materials in the deal could be used for legitimate commercial purposes, but advises caution and action by the Indian government since they might be used in the production of chemical weapons. The cable makes a few claims about how the group might be connected to Syria’s chemical weapons program.

“We are concerned that the equipment in question is intended for, or could be diverted to, Syria’s CW program,” the cable continued, The Guardian reports. “The Syrian Research Council (SSRC) is a key entity behind Syria’s chemical warfare program and may be behind Syria’s biological warfare program as well.”

In concluding the cable, the United States requested that the Indian government take action to prevent future transactions from taking place involving the Syrian government.

“We therefore request that the Indian government take all steps necessary to investigate this matter and prevent Syria from acquiring dual-use items, such as glass or glass-lined reactor vessels, heat exchangers, and pumps that could be used in its CW programs,” the cable said, according to The Guardian.