Arms trade: UK dealers accused of selling Soviet weapons to blacklisted countries
By Nicholas Watt | guardian.co.uk
Britain has launched an urgent investigation into allegations that UK arms dealers have been buying up old Soviet weapons and selling them on to blacklisted countries.
In a sign of acute government sensitivity over the allegations, the foreign secretary David Miliband has asked senior MPs on a Commons select committee to suppress evidence of the arms sales.
Miliband intervened after a group of MPs were handed a document detailing the arms sales by the deputy foreign minister in the former Soviet republic of Ukraine.
The cross-party group of MPs met Oleksandr Gorin during a visit to Kiev in May on behalf of the Commons select committee on arms export controls.
In their report, published today, the MPs write: "The document contained a list of UK registered brokers to whom the Ukrainian State Service for Export Control had licensed the export of collectors' items (light arms) from the Soviet stockpile of weapons. We were alarmed to see that the end users on the list included countries for which there are Foreign and Commonwealth Office restrictions on the export of strategic goods."
The MPs – the committee chairman Roger Berry, Labour backbencher David Borrow and the former Tory minister Sir John Stanley – alerted the Foreign Office about the alleged sale of weapons which are believed to include the notorious AK-47 Kalashnikov assault rifle.
Miliband wrote to the MPs to say that the Export Control Organisation and HM Revenue & Customs were examining the companies listed in the document.
The foreign secretary then asked the MPs not to publish the document handed to them by the Ukrainian government. "From our perspective it would be preferable if the [committee] did not at this point make public the details contained in the list as it would alert the companies to the fact that we are investigating and might lead those who have committed an offence to try to cover their tracks."
In their report today, the MPs express unease that the Foreign Office had no idea about the Ukrainian arms sales. They say there is evidence that some of the "massive stockpiles of ex-Soviet weapons" in Ukraine have ended up in "undesirable locations", citing a report in June that Ukrainian arms were intercepted in Nigeria on their way to Equatorial Guinea.
"We are extremely concerned that the UK embassy in Kiev, the Export Control Organisation and HM Revenue & Customs were all unaware of the existence of this list of UK brokers who had been granted export licences by the Ukraine State Service for Export Control, particularly as it was provided to us freely by the Ukrainians...
"We recommend that, in major arms exporting countries such as Ukraine, the FCO should ensure that its embassies and diplomatic posts engage more effectively with the national export control organisations to obtain information on UK arms brokers licensed by overseas states."
Borrow said that Ukraine did not present a nuclear threat because it voluntarily gave up Soviet nuclear weapons after the dissolution of the USSR in 1991. He added: "Obviously they did inherit large stocks of conventional weapons. We were all very surprised [by the document]. We tried to be as responsible as possible in the way in which we dealt with it."
The committee also calls for closer scrutiny of British arms exports after the government confirmed earlier this year that Israeli weapons used in the Gaza conflict almost certainly contained British-made components. The committee described this as regrettable.
Concerns were also raised that British military equipment, exported to Sri Lanka during the ceasefire between the government and the Tamil Tigers, may have been used against civilians when hostilities intensified in 2006.
Mark Thatcher accused: Sources say he got 12m pounds from arms deal signed by his mother
From arms deals in Africa to oil speculation in China - the mercenary world of Mark Thatcher
Thatcher on bail over coup plot
Sir Mark Thatcher could face extradition attempt over failed African coup
Latest News from our Front Page
Vikings Were Pioneers of Craft and International Trade
The connections between technology, urban trading, and international economics which have come to define modern living are nothing new. Back in the first millennium AD, the Vikings were expert at exploring these very issues.
While the Vikings are "gone" their legacy is remembered, such as at the annual Jorvik Viking Festival in York. The Norsemen's military prowess and exploration are more ...
Just Based on DNA, Scientists Can Construct an Image of Your Face
Putting pencil to paper has been the tried-and-true method to illustrate the faces of wanted criminals, but new technology is changing this traditional approach. DNA, rather than an artist’s skill, is an emerging tool to recreate the face behind a crime.
The new forensic technique is called DNA phenotyping. It relies on DNA, found for instance in a drop of blood, ...
FCC Votes In Favor Of Obama's Net Neutrality - Has The Slippery Slope To Web Censorship Begun?
"An open Internet is essential to the American economy, and increasingly to our very way of life," according to President Obama and it appears his perspective on the heavy hand of government regulation inserting itself into the last bastion of freedom and dynamism in the US economy, is how best to achieve "openness." Having pressured FCC's Tom Wheeler, the vote ...
The Endgame: White Genocide
Made by youtube.com/ThisisEuropa
“There is no place in modern Europe for ethnically pure states. That’s a 19th century idea and we are trying to transition into the 21st century, and we are going to do it with multi-ethnic states.”
– Wesley Clark, U.S. general, ex-NATO Supreme Commander, talking about the NATO bombing of Serbia, 1999.
What is White Genocide?
▪ Moving millions of ...
Former German Lawyer Sylvia Stolz has been jailed again
Sylvia Stolz, the former defence attorney for Ernst Zundel has been convicted today in a Munich court, once again under the tyrannical BRD laws concerning so-called “holocaust denial” and thereby “inciting racial hatred”. She was sentenced to 20 months in prison with no possibility of parole.
The case stems from her presentation at the AZK in Switzerland in 2012 where ...
|More News » |