Following the assertions that the nerve agent Sarin has been used in the conflict in Syria, tests on material recovered from that war-torn country have been conducted by the French authorities which have shown the presence of Sarin.
Tests have also been carried out on a sample from Syria by the British laboratory, DSTL (Defence Science and Technology Laboratory) at Porton Down. This sample has also proved positive for Sarin.
Laboratories carrying out tests to determine the presence of chemical weapons (CW) are subject to a stringent quality assurance regime from the Organisation for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). OPCW conduct regular proficiency tests (PTs) covering samples and CW agents which could be encountered in the event of a CW being used or suspected. National laboratories must demonstrate their competence in these PTs, which are very thorough, in order to be able to carry out testing of any suspected CW samples. This places a high level of confidence in the results presented by these laboratories.
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