UK urged to stop arming Saudi Arabia after admission on cluster bombs

By staff writers
December 21, 2016

The Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon, has told parliament that the Saudi Arabia-led military coalition has used UK manufactured cluster munitions in its ongoing bombardment of Yemen. The UK has not licensed cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia since the 1980s, but the Saudi government has confirmed that they have been used.

Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said: "The use of UK cluster bombs by Saudi Arabia is characteristic of a brutal war and a brutal regime. If Saudi forces are prepared to use cluster bombs then why is the UK continuing to arm and support the regime?

CAAT says that since Saudi Arabia began bombing Yemen in 2015, 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 UK government is working with BAE Systems to secure the sale of even more of the same fighter jets that are being used in Yemen. In September the House of Commons Business, Innovation and Skills and International Development Committees' called for an end to arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

Kate Allen, the UK director of Amnesty International has called for a total suspension of all weapons sales to Saudi Arabia. She said: "This is a very simple issue. If the Saudi-led coalition can use British-made cluster munitions against Yemeni villages, then we shouldn't be surprised that it can also bomb homes, hospitals, schools and factories in Yemen.

"The cluster bombs are just more proof of the sheer recklessness of the Saudi coalition's tactics in Yemen – but there was already a huge amount of evidence of this recklessness.

"It's long-overdue for the UK to start honouring its international obligation to halt weapons sales where there's a clear risk that those weapons could be used to carry out serious breaches of international humanitarian law."

UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia are currently subject to a judicial review which will be heard in the High Court between 7-9 February, following an application by Campaign Against Arms Trade.. It calls on the Secretary of State for International Trade to suspend all extant licences and stop issuing further arms export licences to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen until a full review into whether the exports are compatible with UK and EU legislation has been held.

[Ekk/4]

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