Memorandum from Saferworld to the Strategic
Export Controls Committees: Issues of concern in UK arms export
THE THIRD UK ANNUAL REPORT ON STRATEGIC EXPORT
Saferworld welcomed the Strategic Export Controls
Annual Report 2000 as the most detailed annual report on arms
exports which the Government has published, but questioned a number
of potential exports of concern. The question marks over these
sales highlight the need for more detailed information to be included
in the annual reportsomething that the Government has announced
it will not do for the next three yearsand for the introduction
of prior parliamentary scrutiny of arms exports, as proposed by
four select committeesan idea that the Government rejected
in the Report Stage of the Export Control Bill in November 2001.
Saferworld urges the Government to rethink these decisions.
More information than before but greater transparency
The report covers all controlled goods licensed
during the year 2000 and gives some information on weapons exported
from the UK over the same period. For the first time, the Government
has included information on the quantities of small arms licensed
for sale under Standard Individual Export Licences (SIELs) and
of actual exports of major conventional weapons systems. This
is a welcome move and confirms the report as the most detailed
in Europe. However, it is still not possible to fully assess the
implementation of the Government's export policy because information
on the value of each licence, the end-user in the recipient country,
and details of export licences refused are not published. The
lack of detail on end-users is a major problem as there is a
big difference between exports of small arms to a repressive police
force in a developing country and to wardens in a game park.
Questions raised about the use of Open Individual
Export Licences (OIELs)
In recent years the Government has lightened
the administrative burden on both Government and business through
the increasing use of open licences in cases where the sales are
believed to be relatively uncontroversial. Yet some exports which
are recorded under OIELs do give rise to concern. For example,
OIELs were issued for components for combat helicopter to Algeria,
for general-purpose machine guns to Israel, and for components
for combat aircraft and combat helicopter to both Peru and Zambia.
It is also noteworthy that a large number of OIELs have been issued
for small arms. Although these are for the most part to NATO and
other closely allied states, no data on quantities is available,
which undermines the move towards greater transparency in quantities
of small arms exports given under SIELs. The Government should
provide more information on OIELs in order to reassure observers
that they are not being used to undermine the export control regime.
Reporting under the Framework Agreement
Concerns have been raised that, unless specific
steps are taken, the entry into force of the Framework Agreement
could undermine HMG's commitment to transparency. The Framework
Agreement establishes simplified licensing procedures for the
transfer of controlled parts and components between six EU Member
in order to facilitate their entering into the joint production
of military equipment. Accordingly, since the responsibility for
issuing export licences lies with the authorities where the finished
product emerges, there is a danger that arms containing UK-manufactured
components could be exported to sensitive destinations from other
EU Member States without the knowledge of the UK parliament or
In order to ensure that HMG's commitment to
transparency is upheld under the Framework Agreement, all exports
of jointly produced goods, regardless of the country of final
export, should be recorded in subsequent Annual Reports on Strategic
Reporting post-Export Control BillIntangible
transfers, technical assistance and trade in controlled goods
Upon becoming law, the new Export Control Bill
will provide for the licensing of types of transaction, such as
those involving the transfer of intangible technologies and arms
brokering deals which fall outside the current export control
regime. It is therefore essential that the format of the Annual
Report is updated to take account of these changes.
Of most concern is likely to be the trade in
controlled goods, commonly referred to as arms brokering and trafficking.
The Annual Report must be developed to carry information relating
to the licensing of arms brokering deals by HMG. This information
should include comprehensive details of the source, the transit
route and the end-user of the arms in any licensed brokering transaction
as well as a description of the arms, and information on quantity
Information on circumstances where the Government
facilitates weapons purchases by others
The Annual Report should also set out, in a
systematic fashion, comprehensive information relating to government-to-government
transfer of arms. In circumstances where the government has not
directly supplied arms itself, but instead has financed or otherwise
facilitated the transfer of arms to an entity outside the UK,
details of these arrangements should also be made clear in the
Annual Report. Recent press reports suggested that HMG may have
played a role in facilitating the transfer of arms to the Northern
Alliance. However, a recent parliamentary question failed to shed
any light on the matter.
Ann Clwyd: To ask the Secretary of State
for Trade and Industry (1) if the Government have (a) transferred
and (b) approved the transfer of controlled goods to (i) the Northern
Alliance, (ii) its component factions and (iii) other non-state
actors operating in Afghanistan since 11 September; 
(2) what plans the Government have to facilitate
the delivery of controlled goods to (a) the Northern Alliance,
(b) its component factions and (c) other non-state actors operating
in or around Afghanistan; 
(3) what plans the Government have to transfer
controlled goods to (a) the Northern Alliance, (b) its component
factions and (c) other non-state actors operating in Afghanistan;
(4) if the Government have facilitated the
delivery of controlled goods to (a) the Northern Alliance, (b)
its component factions and (c) other non-state actors operating
in Afghanistan since 11 September; 
(5) what plans the Government have to fund
weapons purchases by (a) the Northern Alliance, (b) its component
factions and (c) other non-state actors operating in Afghanistan;
(6) if the Government have funded weapons
purchases by (a) the Northern Alliance, (b) its component factions
and (c) other non-state actors operating in Afghanistan since
11 September. 
Mr. Bradshaw: I have been asked to reply.
The Government are involved in military operations
in self-defence against international terrorists within Afghanistan.
Information and plans about these operations are extremely sensitive,
and it would not be in the public interest for them to be disclosed.
In my opinion, exemptions 1(a) and (b) (Defence, Security and
International Relations) of the Code of Practice on Access to
Government Information apply here.
Internal conflict or repression
Saferworld is concerned over exports of military
equipment to Angola, potentially repressive equipment to Colombia,
and small arms to Sri Lankaall of which are engaged in
protracted internal conflicts. Large amounts of small arms have
also been licensed to Nepal and the Philippines who are facing
insurgencies. It is questionable whether these exports are in
keeping with the criteria that arms exports will not be licensed
"which would provoke or prolong armed conflicts or existing
tensions or conflicts".
Angola components for military
bridge, military trailers, military utility vehicles.
Colombia stun grenades, smoke
hand grenades, military communications equipment.
Nepal 335 small arms (including
320 semi-automatic pistols) and body armour.
Philippines 400 semi-automatic
Sri Lanka 75 sub-machine guns
and four semi-automatic pistols, armoured all-wheel drive vehicles,
components for heavy machine gun and for armoured fighting vehicle.
Saferworld is concerned about the following
arms exports to countries with poor human rights records. It is
questionable whether these are in keeping with the criterion that
exports will be not licensed ``if there is a clear risk that the
proposed equipment might be used for internal repression''.
Bahrain 171 small arms (including
150 submachine guns, assault rifles, shotguns, semi-automatic
Indonesia components for combat
aircraft and combat helicopters.
Kenya small arms ammunition,
stun grenades, body armour.
Mexico anti-riot shields, small
Turkey body armour, small arms
ammunition and small calibre artillery ammunition.
Saudi Arabia body armour, crowd
control ammunition, small arms ammunition.
Zambia 400 sub-machine guns,
400 semi-automatic pistols, grenade launchers.
Regional conflict or instability
Saferworld is concerned about the following
exports to countries in regions of conflict or instability. Parliament
should examine the implementation of the criterion that export
licences will not be issued "if there is a clear risk that
the intended recipient would use the proposed export aggressively
against another country or to assert by force a territorial claim".
The UK is exporting equipment with a potentially offensive use
to India and Pakistan (in dispute over Kashmir), Israel and Lebanon
(in high tension in the Middle East), and Morocco (in dispute
over Western Sahara).
India components and technology
for combat aircraft and combat helicopters, components and technology
for surface-to-air missiles.
Israel demolition charges, general
purpose machine guns, rifles, small arms ammunition and components
for small calibre artillery ammunition, components for air-to-surface
missile, armoured fighting vehicle, armoured personnel carrier,
combat aircraft, combat helicopter and tank.
Lebanon 233 shotguns, 30 general
purpose machine guns.
Morocco 175 small arms (including
assault rifles, rifles, revolvers, sub-machine guns and shotguns)
all on temporary export licences.
Pakistan components for combat
helicopter, 171 shotguns, military communications equipment.
Saferworld raises questions of the following
exports to countries where there may be a risk of diversion to
other destinations. Saferworld calls for careful examination of
the implementation of the criterion that ``the existence of a
risk that the equipment will be diverted within the buyer country
or re-exported under undesirable conditions''.
Hong Kong 24 small arms (a range
of pistols, rifles and revolvers including 15 sub-machine guns),
a range of crowd control equipment including ammunition, CS hand
grenades and tear gas. Hong Kong is now part of mainland China
which is under an EU arms embargo.
Jordan 102 small arms (including
53 sub-machine guns and 42 assault rifles), components for combat
aircraft and large calibre artillery ammunition. Jordan was named
as a conduit for arms to Iraq in the Scott Report.
Paraguay 100 sub-machine guns
plus components and technology. Paraguay has been named as a major
trans-shipment route of small arms to the illicit market in Brazil.
Singapore 3,342 sub-machine guns,
744 rifles, 301 semi-automatic pistols, two sniper rifles, small
arms ammunition, components for combat aircraft and armoured personnel
carriers. In the BMARC case, British naval cannon sold to Singapore
ended up in Iran.
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