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Friends - I know this is outside our remit - broadly - yet feel  its input
may be valid - hope Ok. That said, the arms we shld be halting is the
production in US/UK/Israel and South Africa - I dream on .... best, felicity

Date: Wed, May 29, 2002, 11:27 am


By Justine Smith And Alex Williams

BRITAIN is continuing to sell military hardware to suspect regimes and
countries ravaged by war, corruption and poverty, a Mirror investigation

A third of Britain's Government-approved arms exports go to nations where
there is a risk of provoking or prolonging conflict in defiance of EU codes
of conduct.

Other countries which receive our arms are likely to pass them on to
Britain's strategic enemies, says the Campaign Against the Arms Trade.

To hide the extent of the scandal the Government shrouds the contents of
arms consignments in secrecy, invokes the Official Secrets Act to stop MPs
asking questions and hides behind confidentiality clauses.

It makes a mockery of New Labour's once vaunted claim to pursue an "ethical"
foreign policy. Saferworld campaign group said: "The whole industry is
shrouded in secrecy with manufacturers and politicians hiding behind phrases
such as commercial sensitivity and classified information."

The results of our probe follow John Pilger's disclosures in the Mirror
yesterday that in 2000 Britain armed India and Pakistan with 64million
worth of defence equipment.

The two nuclear powers are now teetering on the brink of all-out war.
Yesterday, despite rising tension, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said there
were NO plans for an arms embargo.

The denial came after Trade Secretary Patricia Hewitt was said to have
signed an order suspending all arms exports to India and Pakistan.

But a Trade Department spokesman said yesterday: "There is no ban because no
embargo is needed as the existing criteria for assessing applications are
strict enough."

Britain is the world's second biggest arms dealing nation after the US.

The Government approves arms exports worth an average 1billion a year.

But according to the Institute for Strategic Studies they were worth
3.5billion in 2000 alone.

Ethical codes are meant to bar exports to countries where there is a risk of
weapons being used for external aggression or internal repression. But
Britain sells arms to at least 20 countries in apparent breach of the rules.

Drawing on figures from the Government's Annual Report 2000 on Strategic
Export Controls the Campaign Against the Arms Trade discovered that recent
sales include:

Machine guns worth 6.5million sold to Sierra Leone, 2million worth of
fighter jet parts for Indonesia, 1million worth of military vehicles for
Angola and 1million worth of rifles and military vehicles for pariah state

Also listed were sales to the rogue states branded by President Bush as an
"axis of evil". Iran received 12.5million of defence/attack equipment.

Iraq and North Korea each received 250,000 of unspecified equipment.

CAAT spokesman Richard Bingley said: "Sales to North Korea and Iraq will be
non-offensive supplies such as de-mining equipment.

"But exports to Iran include decrypting technology and other equipment that
could be used in a conflict."

British arms could be used to assert territorial claims in India, Pakistan,
Israel and Lebanon.

In Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Zambia, they could be
used for internal repression.

Sales to Hong Kong, Jordan, Paraguay and Singapore could be diverted to
rogue recipients.

It is believed China and Turkey buy technology and weapons from the UK which
are then sold on to rogue states.

All arms export licences are approved by the Trade Department after
consultation with the Ministry of Defence, Foreign Office, and Department
for International Development.

But despite protests from campaigners the Government has never investigated
the extent of illicit cross border arms dealing involving weapons made under
British licence.

Mr Bingley said: "The 1996 Scott report identified Jordan and Egypt as
recipients of British arms and likely to pass them on to Iraq.

"Similarly, Britain has supplied arms to Pakistan while it was close to the
Taliban and unlikely to honour guides barring it from sharing British
defence exports with Afghanistan."

The UK imposes arms embargoes according to Government decisions and UN
Security Council resolutions.

Currently certain exports are prohibited to Iraq, Angola and Sierra Leone.
There are arms embargoes against Liberia, Rwanda and Somalia.

But Sam Barratt, Oxfam conflict officer, said: "In the past four years
British arms dealers have supplied arms to Liberia, Sierra Leone, the
Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Eritrea and Zimbabwe.

"Every flight carries an average of 35 tonnes. Laws going through parliament
are unlikely to clamp down on many of these deals and it will be business as
usual for the gunrunners." Further military hardware is sold to desperately
poor countries.

Last year, the Government was condemned for approving a 28million BAe air
traffic control system to Tanzania - one of the world's 10 poorest nations.

Another 3billion contract for Hawk and Jiten jets was approved in South
Africa - 10 times the amount spent there on tackling the Aids epidemic.

Former Foreign Secretary Robin Cook pledged in 1997 to introduce an "ethical
dimension" to foreign policy.

Labour MPs took the promise as a signal for a clampdown on unscrupulous arms
traders. But their hopes were soon dashed.

Powerful weapons companies, which provide thousands of jobs and generate
massive income for the Treasury, successfully argued that foreign
competitors would step in to any vacuum left by Britain.

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