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
Catastrophic Fertility Rates
YouTube description: Back in February, Reactionary Expat and I recorded a three-and-a-half hour conversation. ... This first instalment sees us discussing worldwide fertility rates. It's bad news everywhere.
Official Working for the Swedish Government: "There Is No Native Swedish Culture."
This brave woman, who is just such a counter culture rebel is trying to convince Swedes - yet again - that there isn't such a thing such as a "native Swedish culture."
This courageous woman, Ingrid Lomfors, who just happens to be Jewish, has not only been educated in Jerusalem at the Hebrew University. She's also been trained at the Hebrew ...
Whistleblower doctor explains horrific reality dealing with Muslim invaders in Germany
This is unbelievable.
A Czech doctor, who works in a German hospital, is so disgusted and overwhelmed with the Muslim migrant invaders that she is threatening to leave the country and go back home to the Czech Republic. She explains, via an email letter (because the press is forbidden from reporting on this), how horrific the conditions are in these hospitals, ...
The Final Leaked "Secret" TPP Text is All That We Feared. Top Down Control of the Internet
Since we now have the agreed text, we’ll be including some paragraph references that you can cross-reference for yourself—but be aware that some of them contain placeholders like “x” that may change in the cleaned-up text.
Also, our analysis here is limited to the copyright and Internet-related provisions of the chapter, but analyses of the impacts of other parts of ...
Jewish leaders say ânoâ to Syrian refugees on anti-semitism concern - NL Times
The Jewish community of Amsterdam-Zuid are concerned about the arrival of a refugee center in Amstelveen-Noord, which local residents were informed about on Monday night. The proposed shelter will house 400 refugees, mostly from Syria and Iraq.
This weekend it was announced that the municipality of Amstelveen intends to shelter refugees in the office building on Laan van Kronenberg – less ...
|More News » |