Arms Industry

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© Matt Wuerker, Sept.2014
Shadow World, Andrew Feinstein
Based on the book "The Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade", this documentary is an investigation into the $multi-billion international arms trade. (1:28) Website

War Is A Business Model. Greater Deaths Equal Greater Profits; and Politicians are the Sales Team.
Wall Exchange Lecture by Andrew Feinstein of Corruption Watch (Autumn.2016). Draws back the curtain on the shadow world of the global trade in weapons—its systemic corruption, highly technical nature, and the pervasive secrecy in which deals are concluded. Watch on Youtube

CAAT is a brilliant resource. For govt companies, see [1], [2] and [3].

  • Introduction to the Arms Trade: Why does the government support this deadly trade? Campaign Against Arms Trade
  • Political Influence. The Arms industry has inserted itself into the very heart and machinery of govt giving it totally disproportionate access and influence over vital areas, warping public policy and harming us all, Campaign Against Arms Trade
  • Explore the links between govt and the Arms and Security Industries, CAAT Political Influence Browser
  • 2018.01.10: Dozens of activists protesting UK’s biggest arms fair face trials starting this week. Arrested for protesting against DSEI arms fair Sept.2017 in London’s Docklands. The London Economic

  • Apr.30.2018: WWIII at Syria's doorstep: Who stands to gain? The world’s major superpowers are converging on Syria, the centre of a new Cold War between America and Russia, and a significant source of conflict over a natural gas pipeline connecting the Middle East with Europe and their respective trading partners, the outcome of which will dictate the structure of the next century’s ‘new world order’. “It is with this aim then, that the US, UK, and France have backed an armed Islamist rebellion ... in 2018, war has become an end in itself. “Bombing is actually the slavery of capitalism.” And Theresa May would know. Her husband, Philip May, profited handsomely from the Syria bombings. He is the largest holder of arms manufacturer, BAE Systems, whose share price has soared since the air-raids. Claire Connelly, Renegade Inc.

Ultra Electronics

Ultra specialises in technology for the defence, aereospace, security and transport markets. The Ministry of Defence and the US Department of DefenceWikipedia-W.svg are the company's two biggest customers.

  • Apr.20.2018: Ultra Electronics facing Algeria corruption inquiry. Ultra Electronics has become the latest defence company to be subjected to a corruption investigation by the Serious Fraud Office. The SFO said it had “opened a criminal investigation into suspected corruption in the conduct of business in Algeria by Ultra Electronics, its subsidiaries, employees and associated persons following a self-report by Ultra”. Ultra is one of Britain’s leading defence companies, involved in some of the UK’s key military programmes. An expert in sonar and sonobuoys — used in anti-submarine warfare — Ultra works on the Royal Navy’s Astute class submarines and the RAF’s Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets. The company has a market value of £1.2bn and employs nearly 4,500 people. Last year it made £120m of operating profits on £770m of revenues. Last autumn Ultra’s shares dived after the shambolic dismissal of its chief executive Rakesh Sharma on a Friday evening, hours after it warned that a deal to buy a US rival had stalled. It recently hired a new chief executive, Simon Pryce, a former boss of the aviation service group BBA Aviation plc, though he is not due to start work until June. Robert Lea, The Times.
  • Mar.06.2018: Department of Justice sinks Ultra Electronics' US submarine venture. The British defence contractor said yesterday that it was not proceeding with its $235m acquisition of Sparton Corporation after authorities in the USA had raised competition concerns. Worse, it emerged that its takeover target could become an aggressive competitor and that the US Department of Justice, which had questioned the deal, now intended to open an antitrust investigation into the companies' existing joint venture. Sparton put itself up for sale in 2016. Ultra's acquisition had been billed as a step to bolster the British group's position in America as a supplier to the US govt. Instead, Ultra now faces the break-up of Erapsco, the joint venture that was established in 1987. Erapsco is the sole supplier of sonobuoys for the US navy. Rakesh Sharma, Ultra's former chief executive, left in Nov.2017. Emily Gosden, The Times.


Militarisation of the EU

  • Dec.04.2017: Arms industry lobbying and the militarisation of the EU. Lobbying by the arms industry is shaping the European Union’s approach to security and 'defence'. The EU’s plans to fund the research and development of new weapons through the European Defence Fund reflects an acceleration in the militarisation of the EU. The arms industry exerts its influence in Brussels through a web of direct lobbying, think tanks, events and conferences, and trade associations. All the major arms companies have offices in Brussels, and the AeroSpace and Defence Industries Association (ASD), the arms industry's most important EU lobby organisation, has been pushing for the European Defence Fund. Some proposals made by the European Commission almost mirrored recommendations made by ASD. more... The Power of Lobbies, Corporate Europe Observatory.

Robots / Automation

  • Dec.04.2018: Machinegun robot prepares for battle. Guns on robots have been tested by the British Army for the first time as part of an exercise examining ways to automate warfare. An unmanned, tracked vehicle mounted with a general-purpose machinegun has been evaluated on Salisbury Plain as part of a month-long exercise called Autonomous Warrior. The machine, named Titan Strike, has been developed by QinetiQ, alongside a remote-controlled surveillance system that can work with it. Lucy Fisher, The Times.

Arms Sales

  • Jan.31.2019: Britain and the Iranian revolution: Expediency, arms and secret deals. The Shah was put in power in 1953 in an Anglo-American covert operation instigated by London, to remove leader Mohammad Mosaddegh, who had nationalised British oil operations. The Shah ruled for a further quarter of a century, brutally repressing opposition through his notorious internal security service, SAVAK, which the UK helped train. Margaret Thatcher described the Shah as “one of the world’s most far-sighted statesmen” who had given Iran “dynamic leadership” and is “leading Iran through a twentieth century renaissance”. James Callaghan’s Labour govt secretly agreed to the Shah’s request to supply 175,000 CS gas canisters and up to 360 armoured personnel carriers to Iran to help the regime put down growing demonstrations against it. By Dec.1978, the govt concluded that the Shah’s survival was unlikely, and switched sides. Under the new Thatcher govt, Britain continued to arm and train the new Iranian regime. In the 1980s, the govt regarded the Iranian revolutionary regime as a strategic threat to the West, and the Thatcher govt armed both sides, breaking both the UN embargo and Britain’s own export guidelines. Now, the govt would like to remove the Iranian regime from the Middle East, and extremists in the US and Israel are pushing for war, but this is not 1953. For now, London will continue promoting its commercial interests with Iran, while sometimes playing the side of the US in confronting it. British policy towards Iran has often been based on pure expediency. Mark Curtis, Middle East Eye.
  • Oct.25.2018: German ban threatens £10bn Typhoon deal. The multibillion-pound sale of Typhoon fighter jets by Britain to Saudi Arabia could be jeopardised if Germany enforces a ban on supplying key components. The German govt has declared a halt to arms sales to Riyadh over the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, the dissident journalist, by a Saudi hit squad in Istanbul. Mark Francois, a Tory MP and former defence minister, raised concerns about the future of the deal in light of Germany’s stance. Graham Jones, a Labour MP and chairman of the committees on arms export controls, said the UK government was close to potentially reversing its own position on selling arms to Saudi. Other parliamentarians warned that France, a major defence sector competitor to Britain, was now touting military equipment that was “100% French”. A govt source said that Germany’s stance was “easy to adopt when you don’t really have an arms industry”. Germany accounts for just under 2% of total Saudi arms imports. Lucy Fisher, The Times.
  • Aug.10.2018: Saudi Arabia and Israel are killing civilians – and Britain is complicit. The slaughter in Yemen and the Palestinian territories is happening with British arms and support – and media silence. According to the Campaign Against Arms Trade, our govt has supplied the grotesque Saudi dictatorship with £4.7bn worth of arms since the war in Yemen began. Just months ago, the British govt feted the Saudi dictator Mohammed bin Salman: unveiling a joint £100m aid deal, granting this tyranny humanitarian PR, while BAE Systems announced the sale of another 48 Typhoon jets. It gets worse: British military personnel are directly involved in helping the Saudi war effort – to what extent remains intentionally murky. ... And yet as the slaughter continues, British arms sales to Israel are at a record high. But as long as Britain and its allies are complicit – and as long as our media fail in their duty to inform the public of what is happening in their name – these horrors will only continue. Owen Jones, The Guardian.
  • May.27.2018: British arms exports to Israel reach record level. British defence contractors are selling record amounts of arms to Israel, new figures reveal. Figures from the Campaign Against Arms Trade reveal that last year the UK issued £221m worth of arms licences to defence companies exporting to Israel. This made Israel the UK’s 8th largest market for UK arms companies, a huge increase on the previous year’s figure of £86m, itself a substantial rise on the £20m worth of arms licensed in 2015. In total, over the past five years, Israel has bought more than £350m worth of UK military hardware. Jamie Doward, The Guardian.
  • May.08.2018: Palm oil ban could scupper deal on British fighter jets, warns MoD. Defence officials warned the govt that backing a European ban on palm oil could jeopardise a deal to sell British-built fighter jets to Malaysia. The ban is intended to protect the habitats of orangutans and other endangered species. Documents revealed under Freedom of Information law showed that a Ministry of Defence official wrote in an internal govt email that Malaysia was pressing the UK for its position on the ban and that it “could affect our bilateral relationship and potentially defence sales”. Foreign Office officials also raised concerns. BAE Systems hopes to secure the contract, worth more than £1.5bn. Palm oil from Malaysia and Indonesia is used as biodiesel in millions of vehicles in several EU states. Almost 50% of the 7.1m tonnes of the oil imported by the EU in 2016 was turned into biodiesel. It is claimed to be a renewable fuel but studies suggest that when virgin rainforest and peatland are cleared to establish plantations it has a higher carbon footprint than diesel. Last month the supermarket Iceland promised to ban the oil from its own-brand products by the end of the year. The European parliament voted in Jan.2018 to phase out palm oil in biofuel, prompting a backlash from growers in Malaysia. France, which wants to sell its Rafale fighter to Malaysia, has apparently promised to oppose the EU ban. Mah Siew Keong, a Malaysian govt minister, has threatened a tit-for-tat boycott of European goods. The Department for International Trade declined to respond directly when asked if the govt would allow defence sales to influence decisions on protecting rainforest. Ben Webster, The Times.
  • 2017: The World In My Arms USA is the top source of arms imports for 33 countries. Russia is the top source for 14 countries.(pic). @GzeroMedia, Twitter.

Rigorous Repetition

  • How does the govt defend the indefensible? The British govt is regularly criticised for promoting and approving the sale of arms to authoritarian and human rights-abusing regimes. And every time the same disingenuous bluff is deployed by ministers and civil servants: "The UK operates one of the most rigorous arms export control regimes in the world". On paper, this may be true: The govt is not supposed to licence arms exports where there's a clear risk they could be used to violate human rights or to aggravate conflict. In practise however, the UK continues to export arms to repressive regimes and countries involved in conflict, as it has done for decades. There’s even a department that actively promotes arms sales to any country regardless of the human rights situation: Department for International Trade#Defence .26 Security Organisation. Rigorous Repetition. Accessed Apr.10.2018.

Reputation Washing

  • Mar.10.2018: Artists who forced BAE to quit festival branded ‘snowflakes’. Artists have been attacked by a minister as disgraceful “subsidy addicts” after they forced arms company BAE Systems to withdraw its financial support from The Great Exhibition of the NorthWikipedia-W.svg. A host of artists due to take part, including the BBC radio DJ Lauren Laverne, criticised the involvement of BAE. Accenture and Virgin Trains are also sponsors. Jake Berry, Northern Powerhouse minister, attacked the objectors: "What these subsidy-addicted artists need to realise is that it is the 18,000 BAE workers in the north who pay the taxes that support them". The dispute is the latest to arise over the sponsorship of cultural events and institutions by multinational corporations, whose financial support many regard as critical in an era of declining public subsidy. Activists believe that corporate sponsors from the oil, tobacco, pharmaceutical and arms sectors are using their money to "wash" their reputations. The Times, David Sanderson


Linkback: Yemen

  • Apr.12.2018: Activists bring case at appeal court over UK arms sales to Saudis. The Campaign Against Arms Trade have begun an attempt to overturn a high court judgment that allows the govt to continue to export arms to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen. CAAT brought the case against Liam Fox, international trade secretary, seeking permission to appeal against a decision in Jul.2017 that granting licences for the export of arms from the UK to Saudi Arabia was not unlawful. Since the bombing began in Mar.2015, the UK has licensed £4.6bn of arms to the Saudi regime, including £2.7bn of ML10 licences for aircraft, helicopters and drones, and £1.9bn of ML4 licences for grenades, bombs and missiles. Diane Taylor, The Guardian.
  • Mar.08.2018: Britain’s divisive role in Yemen conflict. Britain's support for Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen divides the govt from the public. It is more than just moral support. Saudi Arabia's role in the war is being led by British and American fighter-bombers in the Saudi Royal Air Force, including the BAE-built Typhoons that were sold as part of the Yamamah arms deal. Britain also sends the bombs to go with them. Campaign Against Arms Trade... said £4.6 bn of weapons deliveries were approved by the govt in the first 2 years of the conflict in Yemen. Govt officials strongly defend Britain's role in the conflict, claiming that its involvement can reduce the error rate of strikes. Richard Spencer, The Times.
  • Jan.07.2016: UK Helping Saudi's Yemen Campaign. Britain, already a massive source of weapons and bombs to Saudi, is helping in more direct ways. Six experts are working with Saudi targeteers who select locations for attack. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) in London insists they are not part of any direct operations but are training the Saudis to comply with the international rules of war. Tory MP and former Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell has been critical of the govt’s policy of supplying aid to the victims and arms to Saudis. Britain has agreed contracts worth some £5.6bn in arms exports over the last 5 years. Sky News.
  • Dec.19.2015: Britain: Saudi Arabia’s silent partner in Yemen’s civil war. Saudi Arabia waded into what began as a domestic political power struggle. With Britain as the number one supplier of major weapons to the Saudi kingdom last year, and scores of British-made fighter jets currently being flown by the Saudi royal air force, along with British technical support, UK involvement is irrefutable. Last week, a group of eminent lawyers determined that British arms sales to Saudi are unlawful and called for an immediate halt. The govt invites us to admire the £98m in overseas aid for Yemen. It is small change compared with the £1.7bn worth of UK export licences to Saudi in the first six months of 2015. David Cameron's compulsion to keep supporting Saudi's war can, in addition to the arms trade benefits, be put down to a previous warning given by the Saudi royals... The only beneficiaries of the current war are al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the country’s fledgling Islamic State offshoot, who have flourished as a result of the conflict. Iona Craig, The Independent.
  • Sept.11.2015: Britain "fuelling war in Yemen" through arms sales, says Oxfam. Britain is one of the leading arms suppliers to Saudi Arabia. It has granted the Gulf Kingdom 37 export licenses for military goods since Yemen’s war began. The govt says it is not participating directly, but acknowledges it is providing technical support and precision-guided weapons to Saudi Arabia. Louise Loveluck, The Telegraph.

Repressive Regimes / Human Rights Abusers

  • Mar.13.2018: UK surveillance technology helping Duterte’s human rights crackdown. The Philippines government has for some time been trying to purchase sophisticated electronic surveillance equipment. Despite Duterte’s constant attacks on human rights, the UK govt has already sold him around £150,000 worth of surveillance technology, including IMSI-catchers, which are used to eavesdrop on telephone conversations, and surveillance tools to monitor internet activity. The Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines is calling for an immediate end to the export of such repressive technology by the UK govt to the Duterte regime. Kaleb Lloyd, The Guardian.
  • Feb.26.2018: Where has Liam Fox travelled as trade secretary? Arch-Brexiter Liam Fox has flown further than a trip to the moon – how important were his destinations to UK exports? Analysis shows Fox has travelled to almost 40 different countries since taking over at the Department for International Trade in Jul.2016. The Trade secretary knows that currently the UK's single biggest trading partner is the EU. Even breaking it down, trade with Germany is currently twice that with China. The Guardian, Richard Partington, Angela Monaghan
  • Feb.14.2018: Brexit means... more arms dealing to human rights abusers. The UK has a long and inglorious history of political and military support for dictatorships. Ministerial statements suggest Brexit will make it even worse. (Turkey, Erdogan, Alan Duncan, the value of UK arms being licensed to human rights abusing regimes and dictatorships has increased by almost one third since the referendum. Liam Fox has made 35 overseas trips since his appointment as International Trade Secretary in mid-2016. Many of these have been for mutual fawning and photo-opportunities with leaders with appalling human rights records. United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Department of International Trade priority markets for arms exports. Duterte, Michael Fallon. In the govt's post-Brexit green paper, increasing arms exports was included as a key point in its industrial strategy. It also announced the MoD will work with arms companies to develop a programme to "enhance support for exports". These objectives are shared by the arms industry, with the Aerospace, Defence & Security Group, a trade body for arms companies, telling Bloomberg that "Europe will continue to be important, but there are perhaps other areas where there is now a bigger incentive to develop longer-term relationships... Brexit provides the circumstances and the catalyst for faster and more efforts." Any Brexit that prioritises arms sales and building ever-closer relationships with human rights abusers is one that can only contribute to war, conflict and the further erosion of freedom for people around the world.) openDemocracy, Andrew Smith, Sophia Turner
  • Jan.23.2018: I am on trial for disrupting one of the largest arms fairs in the world. Here’s why I did it. Sophia Lysaczenko will appear in court on Feb.14. She is one of 43 people standing trial over attempts to disrupt the Defence and Security Equipment International fair in Sept.2017. Left Foot Forward, Sophia Lysczenko
  • Sept.10.2017: British arms sales to repressive regimes soar to £5bn since election. UK arms manufacturers have exported almost £5 bn worth of weapons to countries that are judged to have repressive regimes in the 22 months since the Conservative party won the last election. The huge rise is largely down to a rise in orders from Saudi Arabia, but many other countries with controversial human rights records – including Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Venezuela and China – have also been major buyers. The Guardian, Jamie Doward
  • Mar.29.2017: UK triggers Brexit, starts eyeing up Middle East. Britain moves to secure deals with Middle East govts, procuring lucrative defence contracts despite human rights concerns. International trade minister Liam Fox has said that the UK is already in informal talks with 12 countries around the world, many of which are in the Middle East. Free trade agreements, lucrative arms deals, human rights concerns: let’s look at what the government has done so far in the region post-Brexit vote. The UK govt pledged $5.6bn to help UK businesses exporting to Qatar through UK Export Finance. Middle East Eye, MEE Staff

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