Britain is world’s second biggest arms dealer with 60% of weapons sold to Middle East
Britain is the world’s second biggest weapons exporter, with sales of £86billion in the last decade, Government figures revealed yesterday.
In total 60% of the arms – including jets, missiles, bombs and guns – went to the Middle East, mostly Saudi Arabia.
Consignments sold abroad included Typhoon fighter jets, Brimstone missiles, Paveway bombs, guns and tear gas.
Anti-arms campaigners branded the figures “shameful”, saying the UK was “arming repression around the world”.
The Government reiterated that defence exports generate thousands of well-paid, skilled jobs and sustain capabilities that help keep the nation safe.
The Department for International Trade figures show that from 2010-19 only the US was ahead of Britain in the arms export market.
Last year the UK sold £11billion of weapons abroad, £3billion down on 2018.
That amounted to 16% of the global arms trade, with the US on 47%, Russia 11% and France 10%.
Besides the Middle East, Britain’s biggest weapons export destinations were Europe and North America.
Other major defence orders included Hawk jets to India, aircraft engines to France and work on projects for the US.
The Campaign Against Arms Trade’s spokesman Andrew Smith told the Mirror: “Weapons dealers will be celebrating but these figures should be a source of great shame.
“ Boris Johnson and his colleagues are always talking about ‘Global Britain’ and the importance of human rights and democracy, yet they are arming and supporting repression around the world.
“These sales are not just numbers on a spreadsheet. For many people they could be a matter of life and death.
“UK-made weapons have played a devastating role in the Saudi-led bombing of Yemen, helping to create the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.
“Wherever there is conflict there will always be arms companies trying to profit from it.
“This profiteering does not just enable war but actively fuels it.
“Sales being approved today could be used in atrocities for many years to come.”
Britain announced in July that arms sales to Saudi Arabia, suspended last year, would be resumed.
Judges had called for a review into that country’s alleged breaches of international law in Yemen but the investigation later found “no clear risk” of future serious breaches.
The figures also showed that Britain made almost £4billion last year from exporting cyber security expertise, with services sold mostly to Europe, North America and Asia.
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