Weapons giant BAE 'working with UK government' to supply Saudi arms

Weapons giant BAE 'working with UK government' to supply Saudi arms
UK weapons giant BAE said it is working with the UK government to supply arms to Saudi Arabia, despite a German ban on exports and widespread criticism.
2 min read
10 May, 2019
The UK has been criticised for continuing to supply Saudi Arabia with arms [Getty]
British arms maker BAE Systems has said it was working with the UK government and industry partners to keep Saudi Arabia supplied with arms, despite Germany's recent extension of its ban on weapon exports to the kingdom.

Germany ceased arms exports to Saudi Arabia following the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year with a ban designed to halt world weapons exports to the kingdom, which has faced international criticism for its leading role in the war in Yemen.

Saudi-led coalition bombing has killed an estimated 17,729 civilians, according to the Yemen Data Project.

But many say the death toll is much higher.

An April United Nations report puts the number of people killed from fighting, disease and famine at 233,000.

While the ban initially encompassed weapons produced elsewhere with German parts, its March extension made an exception for such arms, including the Eurofighter and Tornado jets.

BAE, Europe's biggest defence company, announced on Thursday it would continue to ship weapons to Saudi Arabia.

"Following the recent updates from the German government regarding export licences, we are working closely with industry partners and the UK government to continue to fulfil our contractual support arrangements in Saudi Arabia on the key European collaboration programmes," BAE said in a statement before its annual general meeting on Thursday according to The Independent.

The arms giant's shares had suffered in February after it warned that its multibillion-dollar deals with Saudi Arabia could be threatened by the ban.

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt penned an angry letter to his German counterpart, requesting that Berlin reconsider the ban due to its potential impact on the British and European arms industries.

The UK has faced a heavy backlash for its continuous arms sales to Saudi Arabia, which is currently waging a brutal war in Yemen which relies heavily upon British-made weapons. Human rights organisations have called for a ban on these sales.

He urged Germany to exempt "major defence projects", including the Typhoon and Tornado jets, from the ban.

Saudi Arabia has been among BAE's most lucrative customers.

BAE works with German companies Airbus and MTU Aero Engines on the Eurofighter Typhoon, 72 of which Saudi Arabia purchased in 2007.

The ban had previously put a question mark on BAE's capability to make good on a £10 billion ($13 billion) deal with Riyadh for 48 Typhoons.