From Lord Avebury P0622083
Tel 020-7274 467
August 22, 2006
Dear Mr Ingram,
Could you please explain why the Government are not only increasing arms sales to
According to The Guardian of April 6, 2006 (see attached article Huge jump in arms sales to Israel), military export licences for Israel almost doubled last year, and now it is revealed (see article from yesterday’s Times attached British Kit found in Hezbollah Bunkers) that at the same time we have been supplying equipment that is of crucial importance to Israel’s mortal enemies.
These policies are profoundly at variance with the aim of achieving a lasting peace in the Middle East, and in the case of
I hope the investigation of the sale of night vision equipment will be widened to cover all sales of military and dual use equipment to
The Rt Hon Adam Ingram MP,Floor 5, Main Building,
London SW1A 2HB
Huge jump in arms sales to
· Military export licences to country almost double
· Government accused of arming repressive regimes
Thursday April 6, 2006
The number of arms export licences granted for countries the government accuses of human rights abuses increased significantly over the past year, the latest official figures show.
They also show that licences for weapons sales to
Licences for British arms sales to
Quarterly annual figures appear separately on the Foreign Office website and were collated by the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (Caat), which alerted the Guardian to them. They show that licences were also approved for sales of arms valued at more than £12.5m to
The sales cleared for
The increase in arms export licences to
The FO said last night that all exports were considered under the government's official criteria. "The bottom line is that no piece of kit is used for external aggression or internal repression," it said, adding that it believed the government's arms export licensing system was stringent and transparent.
"The government has committed itself to leading international negotiations on an arms trade treaty to stop global arms flows to war zones and repressive regimes," Mike Lewis of Caat said yesterday. "Yet in the last twelve months it has licensed weapons exports precisely to these regimes ... The government must stop arming the world's human rights abusers."
The Times August 21, 2006
AN URGENT investigation was launched last night after
The equipment was found by Israeli troops in Hezbollah command bunkers in southern
The Israelis made representations to the Foreign Office after it was revealed that
Foreign Office officials said early indications seemed to suggest that the night-vision equipment found by the Israelis was not part of the batch sold in 2003 to
The Iranians are the prime sponsor of Hezbollah, and the Israeli authorities are demanding to know whether the equipment sold to
A Department of Trade and Industry official said night-vision equipment of military specification required an export licence. The investigation will look into whether any British company might have breached export regulations.
The batch of 250 night-vision systems were given a special export licence in 2003 because they were intended to be used by Iranian police trying to stem the flow of heroin and opium from Afghanistan into Iran. Although there is what amounts to an arms embargo against
When the export was agreed, Mike O’Brien, then Junior Minister at the Foreign Office, told the Commons: “The goods are for the use on the Iran-Afghanistan border against heroin smugglers.” He said there was “no risk of these goods being diverted for use by the Iranian military”.
If any of the equipment has been diverted to Hezbollah, it would be a serious embarrassment for the Government. Hezbollah’s “external security”, the military wing of the militant organisation, is proscribed as a terrorist group. The Government has also made clear its support for
Liam Fox, the Shadow Defence Secretary, said: “If this turns out to be true, and
One set of the equipment was found by Israeli forces in the southern
One was described as a Thermo-vision 1000 LR system with a serial number 155010, part number 193960. Other equipment, including radios also thought to be British, and sophisticated recording and monitoring devices, were found.
Israeli commanders had complained that night-time operations in the border region had been hampered by the ability of Hezbollah fighters to observe and counter their moves. In more than six days of fighting around the village of Mis-a-Jebel, the Israelis lost six soldiers and 20 more were injured.
Lieutenant-Colonel Olivier Radowicz, an Israeli commander, said: “The night-vision unit was used to observe the movement of troops. You can also record what you are watching. Then it is connected to a computer. You can obtain a perfect intelligence picture in real time. It is then connected to firing systems.”
SaferWorld - For immediate release – 22 August 2006
Hezbollah night-vision allegations highlight loophole in
British military night-vision equipment, originally sold to
Under the UK Government's own arms export criteria, it is obliged to consider "the existence of a risk that the equipment will be diverted within the buyer country or re-exported under undesirable conditions"(2) when deciding on whether to license an export.
Yet, the UK Government does not have a formal system for checking what happens to arms exports after they have been licensed and left the
Saferworld is urging the Government to close this loophole and establish a formal system of end-use monitoring when it conducts its five-year review of the Export Control Act next year. In the interim, the Government should redouble efforts to ensure that it enforces existing regulations to prevent transfers of weapons or other strategic goods to unintended end users.
“This incident demonstrates that the
For further information, please contact:
Sonia Rai, Advocacy and Policy Officer, Saferworld
Tel: + 44 (0) 207 324 4646;
Claire Hickson, Head of Advocacy and Communications, Saferworld
Tel: +44 (0)207 324 4646;
(1) British Kit found in Hezbollah Bunkers, The Times, 21 August 2006.
(2) Criterion 7
(3) For example, United States has the State Department “Blue Lantern programme” and the Department of Defence “Golden Sentry programme”, which operate on the principle that where a particular transfer trips a number of “red flags”, checks on end-use are carried out. In 2004, the State Department performed 530 Blue Lantern checks, with 93 ‘unfavourable determinations.
(4) Strategic Export Controls: Annual Report for 2004, Quarterly Reports for 2005, Licensing Policy and Parliamentary Scrutiny, August 2006, HC873