China’s Norinco Says It Never Sold Chlorine Gas to Syria

China North Industries Group Corp., the nation’s biggest arms manufacturer, denied it sold Syria chlorine gas allegedly used in a chemical attack last month.

“Norinco is greatly concerned about the incident of chlorine gas attack in Syria as well as its aftermath and has since looked into all our past contracts and historical files,” the company said in an e-mailed statement. “Norinco would hereby solemnly declare, based on our investigations, that we never exported any chlorine gas or its cylinders to Syria.”

Human Rights Watch said May 13 that videos of barrel bomb remnants found after attacks in Syria last month showed canisters marked with CL2, chlorine’s symbol, and “NORINCO.” China’s foreign ministry said April 23 it was investigating reports of the attack but added that chlorine was not on any list of controlled items.

State-owned Norinco said the labels on chlorine gas cylinders shown in the video and photos don’t match its logo and “their pattern and way of application is evidently different from our standard way of doing it.”

Norinco, a group with 56 major subsidiaries in everything from hotels to trucks and guided missile systems, also manufactures chemicals. Chlorine is routinely used for water purification.

U.S. sanctions imposed on Norinco for violations of arms sales bans expired in 2007 after the company established an internal compliance department.

“Norinco is a responsible giant international defense corporation,” the company said in the statement. “We have well honored our relevant international obligations by firmly advocating and practicing the commitments made by Chinese government in non-proliferation.”

Speaking in London, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said he’s seen “raw data” indicating that the Syrian government has used chlorine gas “in a number of instances” to suppress the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.

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