07/28/12: The Washington Post reports Syria has expanded its chemical weapons arsenal in recent years with help from Iran and by using front organizations to buy sophisticated equipment it claimed was for civilian programs. According to documents and interviews, the buildup has taken place despite attempts by the United States and other Western countries to block the sale of precursor chemicals and so-called dual-use technology to Damascus. As recently as 2010, documents show that the European Union provided $14.6 million in technical assistance and equipment, some intended for chemical plants, in a deal with the Syrian Ministry of Industry. Recognizing the potential for Syria to divert equipment to weapons programs, the EU had insisted that it be allowed to conduct spot checks on how it was used. But the inspections were halted in May 2011.