Quadripartite Select Committee Written Evidence

Further memorandum from the Government

  Unclassified section of HMG's letter of 8 February 2006 to Quadripartite Committee.

  Quarterly Report for: (i) January to March 2005; and (ii) April to June 2005.


  1.   The introduction to the second quarter report states that:

  A summary description is provided for all items covered by SIELs and OIELs issued for this period. The Report also gives information on the number of small arms covered by SIELs issued during the period. However, this information is not provided in cases where the information is exempt from disclosure consistent with the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. No such exclusions were made in this Report.

Which exemptions could apply?

  The exemption contained in Section 27 (harm to international relations) could potentially apply. This exemption would only be applied in exceptional circumstances. In fact, it has not yet been applied since the entry into force of the act. However, in the interests of transparency, the Government wishes to note that it is at least a possibility that we may be required to do so in the future.

  2.   Is "white phosphorus" subject to licensing control? If it is, please indicate the licences covering it that were issued, refused or changed in the first two quarters of 2005?

  White phosphorous is not controlled for export from the UK, and does not appear on the international control lists from which UK strategic controls derive, ie the Wassenaar Arrangement, the Missile Technology Control Regime, the Australia Group, the Nuclear Suppliers Group, and the Chemical Weapons Convention.

  3.   Were any goods exported to, or for use in, the Western Sahara? Under what country of destination would such goods be listed?

  No export licence was issued covering goods for stated use in the Western Sahara.


  4.   The Committees would be grateful for more information on the following licences issued during the first quarter (January to March) of 2005.


  5.   The Committee would be grateful for more information on the following licences issued during the second quarter (April to June) of 2005.



  6.   On 8 May 2005 the Sunday Times reported on the availability of rockets with radioactive warheads for sale in Transdniester. What investigations and assessment has the Government made of these reports and, on the assumption that the reports are accurate, what steps has the Government taken to address the sale of armaments in Transdniester and with the Governments of Moldova, Ukraine and Cyprus, within or through whose territories some of the transactions to facilitate the proposed sale would have taken place? More generally, what assessment has the Government made of the amount and nature of arms that originate from Transdniester, the use to which these arms are put and of the brokers who promote this trade? In the light of the Government's assessment have the Government plans to strengthen UK, or to promote European and international action to improve, controls of trafficking and brokering of arms which originate in states such as Transdniester?

  We are concerned by reports of illicit arms sales involving Transdniester. The Ukrainian Plan for a settlement of the Transdniester dispute, launched in April 2005, has led to greater EU involvement in the settlement mechanism, and to the placing of a Border Assistance and Monitoring Mission along the Moldova/Ukraine border, including the Transdneistrian section. The 50-man Mission has been in operation since 30 November, and will provide training for local customs and border guards as well as carrying out inspections and checks along the border. It is hoped that this will significantly reduce the smuggling activity known to take place along the border, including of arms and materiel. There has been discussion of inspections of Transdneistrian military factories, but this has not yet been agreed on.

  7.   On 27 November 2005 the Observer reported on the use of British military equipment by the Indonesian authorities against civilians. What assurances have the Indonesian authorities given about the use of British-supplied weapons and equipment? What investigations have the Government made to establish whether British-supplied equipment has been used in any human rights abuses? What were the results of the investigations?

  We no longer seek specific guarantees or assurances that go beyond the provisions of EU Consolidated Criteria when supplying British-built equipment. We would not issue an export licence in the first place if we assessed there was a clear risk the goods would be used to commit human rights abuses.

  The British Embassy followed up with the Indonesian authorities and a number of Papuan-based community leaders and non-governmental organisations reports that British supplied water cannon were used in Papua.

  We were informed that water cannon were used in Jayapura to break up a violent demonstration aimed at an office of the Indonesian Electoral Commission. Having looked carefully at the specific circumstances of this case, we consider that the government used proportionate and legitimate force to maintain law and order, and did not commit internal repression or human rights abuses. The Committee will wish to note that two local NGOs have indicated to staff in BE Jakarta that they considered this a reasonable level of force to use in the circumstances.

  8.   What assessment has the government made of the risk of diversion of goods from China and Taiwan to other countries? What undertakings, if any, has each Government given about preventing diversion?

  In accordance with Criterion 7 of the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria, the risk that equipment will be diverted within the buyer country, or re-exported under undesirable conditions, is part of the risk management process of case-by-case assessment and advice for all export licence applications. This includes the use of intelligence to expose any risks associated with the export of the goods, including in relation to the declared end-user. The Government works to identify any links between the end-user and countries of concern, and any known requirement that countries of concern may have for UK sourced equipment.

  The Government continues to analyse relevant information, for example, on arms production, trade and exports, including `grey' arms dealers and proliferation networks. From this analysis up-to-date advice is provided on specific export licence applications.

  China has shown a willingness to work with us to modernise its export controls. They are members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and have applied for membership to join the Missile Technology Control Regime. This is a positive signal that the Chinese Government is willing to work with partners to improve its export controls. Through an EU project, the UK hope to work closely with China to ensure that its customs officers are able effectively to enforce and implement export controls.

  Taiwan operates an export licensing procedure using a control list based on international control texts (NSG, MTCR, Wassenaar and Australia Group) and receives regular updates from members of international export control regimes. The Taiwanese Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) classifies export destinations into three categories and tailors its controls according to the destination. Additional regulations are applied to exports to the People's Republic of China.

  In January 2005, the Taiwanese Bureau of Foreign Trade (BOFT) announced that they had brought their export controls on strategic high-tech commodities in line with international efforts against terrorism and the proliferation of WMD. Specifically, it announced that exporters who falsified customs declarations would be blacklisted and subject to stricter inspections of their future exports.

February 2006

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