Creating new perspectives since 2009

UK broke inspection rules at Scottish bomb factory supplying Saudi

June 18, 2020 at 4:02 pm

Human rights campaigners protest against the UK arms sale to Saudi Arabia in London, UK on 11 July 2016 [Campaign Against Arms Trade/Flickr]

The British government has failed to meet official criteria in inspecting the arms facilities every three years at a Scottish bomb factory which has been supplying Saudi Arabia’s air force in its war in Yemen.

The latest revelation by Declassified UK and the Ferret follows the government’s missed inspections at a fighter jet factory in England. Weapons inspectors have now admitted to four separate cases across the country.

An investigation has found that US arms giant Raytheon’s missile factory in Glenrothes in eastern Scotland has not been inspected since November 2016. The site makes parts for the company’s Paveway IV missiles supplied to Saudi Arabia, which have been directly linked with suspected war crimes committed in Yemen.

The factory inspections are theoretically designed to ensure that UK-based arms exporters comply with government regulations. However the infrequent inspections cast double over repeated claims made by ministers that the UK operates “one of the most robust export control processes in the world”.

READ: Saudi coalition targets Houthi arms depot in Yemen 

Member of the Scottish Parliament and external affairs spokesperson for the Scottish Green Party, Ross Greer, said: “It’s clear but hardly surprising that we cannot rely on the UK Government to police arms sales. Its claim to be building a ‘global Britain’ is nothing more than a smokescreen for protecting the profits of multibillion-pound international arms firms, regardless of the horrendous suffering it results in.”

Saudi Arabia has fired numerous Paveway missiles in Yemen, so much in fact, that three months into the war started five years ago, the UK military agreed Raytheon could prioritise resupplying the Saudi air force ahead of the Royal Air Force (RAF), which also uses the missiles for operations in Iraq.

According to Human Rights Watch, debris found at bomb sites in Yemen have been found to include remnants of the Paveway IV missile.

Last year, the Court of Appeal ruled that UK arm sales to Saudi Arabia were unlawful as they failed to guarantee that UK-made weapons are not being used against civilians in Yemen. Also last year, the British government had apologised after breaching its own pledge not to license export of arms to the kingdom that could be used in the conflict.

Since March 2015, more than £11 billion ($13.7 billion) worth of UK arms have been licensed to Saudi Arabia.

READ: Saudi-led coalition removed from UN child-killer blacklist