Crashed Israeli Jet Carried
Chemicals For Deadly Nerve Gas
AMSTERDAM (AP) -- An Israeli El Al cargo jet that crashed in Amsterdam six years ago was carrying chemicals used to produce the deadly nerve gas sarin, a Dutch newspaper reported Wednesday.
The plane was carrying 190 litres of the chemical identified as dimethyl methylphosphonate when it crashed into an apartment block outside Amsterdam in 1992, said the respected national daily NRC Handelsblad.
Citing a freight document, the newspaper said the chemical came from a U.S. company in Pennsylvania and was headed for the Israel Institute for Biological Research in Ness Ziona near Tel Aviv.
The U.S. company was identified as Solkatronic Chemicals Inc. in Morrisville, Pa.
A copy of the document was printed on the front page of the newspaper, which did not say how it acquired the document.
Nearly six years after the accident, controversies still surround the plane's cargo, despite repeated investigations. Ahead of the report, the Dutch parliament announced it will conduct a parliamentary inquiry into the accident.
The Boeing 747-200 crashed into an apartment complex in southern Amsterdam on Oct. 4, 1992, killing 43 people. Israeli officials said earlier the plane did not carry any dangerous materials.
On Wednesday, David Bar-Illan, the senior adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, denied that the plane was carrying chemicals used to produce sarin.
Nahman Klieman, spokesman for El Al, said Wednesday that the cargo manifests were turned over to Dutch authorities immediately after the accident. He also said that El Al flies all cargo materials in accordance with international regulations.
However, Klieman would not comment when asked whether chemicals used for making the nerve gas sarin were aboard the plane when it crashed.
According to NRC, the amount of dimethyl methylphosphonate on board was enough to produce up to 270 kilograms of the nerve gas.
The raw material is also used in building materials as a flame retardant.
Four main components are needed for the production of sarin and three of them were on board the El Al jet, said the daily.
The newspaper said it was not clear whether the burning of these chemicals following the accident was to blame for health complaints by residents near the crash site.
A spokesman for the Dutch Transport Ministry declined comment on the report, saying all the details concerning the plane's cargo were announced previously.