Arms Exports to Saudi Arabia

Thank you for contacting me about arms exports to Saudi Arabia.

On the licences found to be unlawful, I understand that two licences, one for an air cooler and one for various radio spares, were erroneously granted for export to Saudi Arabia. In the case of the former, the Department for International Trade were not made aware that Royal Saudi Land Forces (RSLF) troops were in Yemen prior to the licence being granted. I welcome the fact that the licence for the radio spares has been revoked. A third licence was also identified as granted in August, but was unused and has now been revoked too.

I am pleased that a full independent investigation has been undertaken into the initial granting of these licences. All decisions relating to the export of military goods to Saudi Arabia and its Coalition Partners will be subject to additional and more stringent compliance processes. I am confident this will ensure no more licences are granted in error.

The Government takes its defence export responsibilities extremely seriously and operates one of the most robust export control regimes in the world. All export licence applications, including those for Saudi Arabia, are rigorously assessed on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria.

These strict criteria take account of prevailing circumstances at the time of application and include human rights and international humanitarian law considerations. The Government will not issue export licences where there is a clear risk that the goods might be used for internal repression, in the commission of a serious violation of international humanitarian law or in order to provoke or prolong conflict.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.

Craig Whittaker MP

4th November 2019