FAO Newsdesks - 9th July 2002
F-16 upgrades to the Israeli air force
The foreign secretary, Jack Straw, announced this week that the government would grant export licenses for 'head-up displays' to US-made F-16 jets. Some of these jets will then be supplied to Israel.
The export of goods which are to be included in the manufacture of arms in a second country, which thereafter may be exported to a third country, is known as "incorporation". Mr Straw announced on 8th July additions to the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria which are aimed to manage incorporation scenarios. He is right to conclude that incorporation is the way large sections of the post-Cold War arms trade works.
The added criteria means that the UK now has to take into account, among other conditions, "the importance of the UK's defence and security relationship with the incorporating country" and the "end-use of the finished products which might give cause for concern".
The contradictions that the new criteria provoke are made extremely clear by the agreement of the UK government to sell parts to F-16s earmarked for Israel.
CAAT's Richard Bingley said: "the British government, in this instance, has chosen against upsetting defence business ties with America at the expense of betraying its own rules on arms exports. It may have been a 'Hobson's Choice', but UK ministers are clearly breaking their own rules."
CAAT is concerned that the additional criteria will mean that the economic interests of UK arms exporters will always override humanitarian, economic and security concerns in the final recipient country.
Mr Bingley continued: "Whenever the government finds itself in a real dilemma about whether it should grant an export license, it will just shift the decision onto the country that is assembling the overall system; America in this instance."
The existing national and EU criteria state that governments need to take into account before granting a military export license:
Criteria 3) "The internal situation in the country of final destination, as a function of the existence of tensions or armed conflicts"
Criteria 4) "Preservation of regional peace, security and stability"
There are many instances where the government seems to ignore these unambiguous standards recently, with arms sales to India and Pakistan - to name a few. Adding an extra loophole to ministerial guidelines as Mr Straw did this week could devalue the paper that these rules are written on even further.
For further information on arms export guidelines please contact Richard Bingley on +44-(0)-20 7281 0297 or email: press(at)caat·org·uk