Government report shows UK arms exports to Libya throughout 2010

By agency reporter
April 27, 2011

The UK government continued to licence significant amounts of arms for export to Libya till the end of 2010. The figures are contained in the 2010 fourth quarter listings in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Strategic Export Control Reports. The figures reveal licences were approved for military and dual-use equipment over the quarter, totalling £3.76 million. These included components for combat aircraft and over £446,000 worth of small arms equipment, including "weapon sights" and "weapon night sights".

Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) says the figures reveal the approval of many temporary licences - presumably for UK equipment demonstrated at the the Libdex arms fair held in Tripoli in November 2010. These licences included assault rifles, sniper rifles, machine guns and semi-automatic pistols. They also included crowd control equipment such as anti-riot/ballistic shields, smoke canisters and stun grenades as well as military combat vehicles and military communications equipment.

Other arms export licences issued to Libya in 2010 included sniper rifles, wall and door breaching projectile launchers, crowd control ammunition, small arms ammunition, tear gas/irritant ammunition and training tear gas/irritant ammunition.

The UK also licensed weapons and dual-use equipment for export to Bahrain. In the last quarter of 2010, these included ammunition and components for small arms. Earlier in the year licences were issued for tear gas and crowd control ammunition, equipment for the use of aircraft cannons, assault rifles, shotguns, sniper rifles and sub-machine guns.

On 18 February 2011 the UK government revoked eight licences for Libya and 44 licences for Bahrain in response to their governments' brutal suppression of protests. It has since revoked 156 arms export export licences to the Middle East and North Africa, and implemented an arms embargo on Libya in response to UN Resolution 1973.

The largest customers for UK weapons in the region remained Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States. Licences in the fourth quarter to Saudi Arabia totalled £279 million, to Oman £361 million, and to the United Arab Emirates £6 million.

Kaye Stearman, CAAT's media co-ordinator, said: "These most recent figures show that the UK government was more than happy to promote and sell arms to authoritarian regimes in Libya and Bahrain just weeks before these same regimes acted against peaceful protesters asking for basic human rights. The government must have realised that these weapons were likely to be used for internal repression. This latest report reinforces our call for an immediate arms embargo on the Middle East and North Africa and an end to arms exports to repressive regimes."


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