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UK GOING DOWN THE ARMS LEAGUE – AGAIN

13 Oct 04. On the day after the UK MoD announced the purchase of some £1bn worth of trucks from Germany, salt was rubbed into the wound by a report in the Time stating that Germany ahs now overtaken the UK to become 4th in world arms sales, this coming from a country which has considerable restraints to whom it sells. In the early nineties the UK was, for some time, second to the USA in sales riding on the huge Al Yamamah deal (See: BATTLESPACE ALERT Vol.6 ISSUE 18, MAN ERF SELECTED AS PREFERRED BIDDER FOR UK MoD SUPPORT VEHICLE CONTRACT; BATTLESPACE ALERT Vol.6 ISSUE 19 October 12th 2004, UK MoD ANNOUNCES BIGGEST TRUCK DEAL FOR 25 YEARS) Undoubtedly this £1bn will be added to the 2004 tally giving Germany an even greater lead. Thus the curb on arms sales by this government, increased red tape and reluctance to promote the industry is gradually eroding the industry by stealth. The much mooted floatation of QinetiQ will undoubtedly leave to a huge drop in government funded R&D which the government will expect the City to fund (unlikely!), making DSTL the last bastion in future R&D developments. Drivers along the Portsmouth Motorway will see the huge trials dome for the Sampson radar for the Type 45 fleet. Developments of this radar, funded by the MoD and developed by DERA, started in the seventies, with sales just beginning, it is very unlikely that the City will wait his long for a pay back on an investment in R&D!

The remarkable eagerness of Gerhard Schröder, the German Chancellor, to breach postwar taboos by selling weapons to foreign crisis zones has helped to propel his country up the league of leading arms exporters. This is in stark contrast TO Tony Blair and his team who reluctantly supported the Hawk deal after Gordon Brown and his team tried to kill it. Brown is a reputed to be a supporter of any campaign to dismantle the arms industry. Indeed a number of Labour MPs and Ministers were prominent in the 70s ‘Ban the Bomb’ campaign.

Germany has overtaken Britain to become the world’s fourth-biggest arms supplier, according to figures released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Herr Schröder, who is taking a business delegation to see Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, tomorrow, has become, in the words of one diplomat, the “most active arms salesman in Europe, second only to Jacques Chirac”.

The institute’s figures relate to deliveries of major conventional weapons and provide a better idea of general trends than raw export statistics. The data show that Germany sold more arms than Britain in 1999-2000, lagged behind in 2001-02, and is now well ahead again.

Despite the fact that the Chancellor’s Social Democrats are in coalition with the pacifist Green Party, Herr Schröder has plunged enthusiastically into his role as arms supplier. The Government is considering selling surplus Leopard 2 tanks, in a deal worth €7 billion (£4.8 billion), to Turkey, the German press reported yesterday.

Despite a German law that bars the sale of weapons to so-called “areas of tension”, this month the Chancellor discussed the supply of submarines to India. The Government also decided this month to supply 20 Fuchs armoured transporters to Iraq, despite Germany’s resistance to taking part in military operations there. During the Chancellor’s recent Asian tour, he again urged the lifting of the European Union arms embargo against China. None of these initiatives has translated yet into firm statistics, but they represent a push by the Chancellor to boost Germany’s standing in the lucrative arms market. Since he came to power, German military cooperation has risen sharply with Israel and other countries in the Middle East.

The move marks a U-turn for a Government that was committed, when it came to power in 1998, to putting human rights at the centre of foreign policy. Early attempts by the Chancellor to relax strict arms export rules were rebuffed by the Greens, the junior coalition partn

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