An exclusive report by Declassified UK, an investigative news site, reported on Thursday that the British government broke its own inspection rules at a Scottish missile factory which supplies the Saudi Arabian Air Force in its war in Yemen.
Britain is supposed to carry out “regular and thorough inspections” every three years, but the Scottish factory, which manufactures parts for the Saudi air force, has not been checked in three years — breaching the UK government’s own guidelines.
The factory is owned by the US arms manufacturer Raytheon, and located in Glenrothes, east Scotland. It has not been inspected since November 2016 — almost the entire duration of the war in Yemen. The factory makes parts for the Paveway IV missiles used by Saudi Arabia.
The UK government in its statements has consistently said it has “one of the most robust export control processes in the world.”
Declassified UK quoted Andrew Smith, the spokesman for the Campaign Against Arms Trade as saying: “These sites have been crucial in terms of producing arms for the Saudi-led bombing campaign. The fact that the government appears to be failing in its own obligations raises serious questions about the scrutiny being applied and the cosy and compromising relationship between arms companies and government.”
“This does not look like a case of one mistake, it looks like a systematic failure,” he added.
A coalition of human rights groups referred Raytheon, as well as BAE, to the International Criminal Court in December 2019 for being accomplices to alleged war crimes in Yemen.
A Scottish government spokesperson was quoted as saying that Scotland “expects inspection regimes to be adhered to and has consistently called on the UK government to end its flawed foreign policy approach.
“The Scottish government has repeatedly made very clear that, whilst this is a reserved matter, the UK government must properly police the export of arms and investigate whenever concerns are raised.”
Scottish National Party MP Douglas Chapman, also a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Yemen, said the lack of inspections “highlights the reckless, irresponsible attitude of the UK government towards the conflict in Yemen.”
“Despite repeated calls to cease trade of deadly weapons to Saudi Arabia, this practice continues and the UK government has the blood of innocent children on its hands. The UK Government needs to start taking responsibility for its actions, because so far it has turned a blind eye to the pain and suffering its weapons are causing,” he added.
Yemen has been beset by violence and chaos since 2014, when Houthi rebels overran much of the country, including the capital Sanaa.
The crisis escalated in 2015 when a Saudi-led military coalition launched a devastating air campaign aimed at rolling back Houthi territorial gains.
Tens of thousands of Yemenis, including civilians, are believed to have been killed in the conflict, which has led to the world’s worst humanitarian crisis as millions remain at risk of starvation.
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