UK urged to follow US in reducing Saudi Arabia arms sales

By agency reporter
December 15, 2016

The United States is to reduce arms exports to Saudi Arabia, including the halting of a planned export of air-dropped munitions, due to concerns about civilian deaths in Yemen. Campaign Against Arms Trade has urged the UK government to end its arms exports to the Saudi regime.

The UK government has consistently given uncritical political backing to Saudi Arabia, while licensing billions of pounds worth of arms to the regime. This has continued unabated while Saudi Arabia has used UK-made weapons in a bombing campaign which has unleashed a humanitarian catastrophe on Yemen.

A harrowing new report from UNICEF has found that one child is dying every 10 minutes because of malnutrition, diarrhoea and respiratory-tract infections in Yemen, with 400,000 at risk of starvation.

Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said: "Like the US, the UK has licensed billions of pounds worth of arms to Saudi forces. Like their US counterparts, UK arms companies have fuelled and profited from the destruction taking place.

"If even the US is questioning its support for Saudi Arabia, then why is the UK government pulling out all stops to support them? Why are human rights regarded as less important than arms company profits?"

Since Saudi Arabia began bombing Yemen last March, the UK has licensed £3.3 billion worth of arms to the regime including:

  • £2.2 billion worth of ML10 licences (Aircraft, helicopters, drones)
  • £1.1 billion worth of ML4 licences (Grenades, bombs, missiles, countermeasures)
  • £430,000 worth of ML6 licences (Armoured vehicles, tanks)

The military support has been complimented by uncritical political support, with Theresa May meeting Saudi royalty at the Gulf Cooperation Council last week in Bahrain, and the Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, visiting Riyadh last Sunday (11 December 2016) for meetings.

Andrew Smith continued: "Today is full of news of human suffering. Much of the suffering we see in Yemen is being inflicted with UK made weapons and with UK political support. The UK must act now to stop the arms sales and to hold its so-called ally to the same standard as other aggressors and human right abusers."

UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia are currently subject to a judicial review, following an application by Campaign Against Arms Trade. The claim calls on the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills to suspend all extant licences and stop issuing further arms export licences to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen while he holds a full review into if the exports are compatible with UK and EU legislation.

* Read the UNICEF report here

* Campaign Against Arms Trade


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