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UK drone exports – a peek behind the curtain

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This guest post comes from Chris Cole of Drone Wars UK and focuses on the UK drone industry. You can find out more at www.dronewars.net

Drones, or as the industry prefers to call them unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), are the latest ‘must have’ weapon system and many countries are seeking to acquire or develop various types of military drones. While Israeli and US companies dominate the drone export market(and are also involved in lobbying efforts to ‘relax’ the international controls on their export), drones are increasingly been seen by the UK arms industry as a growth area and already a number of smaller niche companies have been swallowed up by the big guns.

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UK must stop arming Israel

Protesters occupy Elbit Systems factory in Birmingham

Protesters occupy Elbit Systems factory in Birmingham

Last month Philip Hammond, the defence secretary, pronounced on Russia’s support for separatists in Ukraine: “They have been supplying them, they have been supporting them… They cannot deny their responsibility for the acts that these people are carrying out.”

He is right, but the same could be said of the UK’s support for Israel in the bombardment of Gaza.

Since 2010 the UK government has licensed £42 million worth of military equipment to Israel, including targeting systems and drone components. Even the UK government’s own review found 12 licences for components that may well have been used in the bombardment of Gaza.

The government’s response to its own review was shocking. It said it would suspend the licences only if ‘significant’ hostilities resumed. Yet even when Israel renewed its attacks on Gaza, with a further seven days of conflict, it did not do so. Read more »

Welfare or Warfare?…The UK government has made their choice very clear at the expense of the taxpayer

This blog is reposted with kind permission from Life requires Freedom.

Today (14/05/13) the UK Trade and Investment: Defence and Security Organisation (UKTI DSO) held a symposium at the BIS conference centre in Westminster, London. In order to facilitate the networking of UK small and medium-sized arms enterprises with larger companies and to provide ‘advice, information and support to increase their sales opportunities in the defence and security sectors at home and overseas’. The anti arms trade force was maintained at this event, as it had been at BAE’s AGM last week. Arms dealers need to gain some conscience and realise that, surprising as it may seem, profiting from death is wrong.
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A tale of two committees

westminsterThe new year has brought CAAT a small but important campaign victory. For the first time, it seems that the Minister responsible for Human Rights at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) will be consulted on priority markets for promotion of arms exports.
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Vince Cable: Constituents speak out

Protesters with banners outside Vince Cable's constituency office

Protesters outside Vince Cable’s constituency office

Paul Tippell is a member of Twickenham, Richmond and Kingston Network against the Arms Trade (TRAKNAT, www.traknat.org.uk), which is co-ordinating a public meeting on 29 November to quiz Vince Cable and Zac Goldsmith on the arms trade. We spoke to him about how constituents are lobbying the Business Minister, and his tips for the future.

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Interrupting Vince Cable – a morning at the arms sellers’ symposium

UKTI DSO at the Farnborough Airshow in 2010

UKTI DSO: flogging arms with your taxes

On 26 April, Sam Walton took the stage to disrupt Vince Cable’s speech at a government arms sales conference.

We didn’t think we’d get in. The UKTI DSO Symposium is the biggest event of the year for Britain’s exporters of “defence & security” gear – so you’d think they’d have better security.

We wandered into the hotel past the police and made our way towards the entrance to the Symposium. Not having the faintest idea where anything was, we were helpfully directed to the ground floor where registration and the first networking and mingling of the day was taking place. Amazing how far a nice suit can get you.

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Wrangling arms data for CAAT

screenshot of UK arms export licence app

The arms export licence app brought over 10,000 new visitors to the CAAT website.

Ian Mackinnon quit his job to create a ground-breaking web app that allows anyone to browse the licences granted by the UK government for exporting arms. Here he talks about why this work was so necessary.

I first came across the UK Government’s Export Controls web page out of curiosity. Among protesters organising against the DSEI arms fair there is often speculation about what arms deals might be done in private between British companies and representatives of repressive governments, but I wanted more concrete information.

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After a year of repression the UK still sells arms to Bahrain

CAAT protests continuing arms sales to Bahrain.

CAAT protesters outside BIS

CAAT protesters outside BIS

Since the New Year, at least ten people have been killed by security forces in Bahrain. Three were killed in custody. Others suffocated on tear gas, which has been fired into people’s homes where they can’t escape.

We have known of Bahrain’s horrific human rights abuses since a year ago when the crackdown on protest began, but the UK continues to arm the kingdom regardless. In Vince Cable’s words last week: “We do business with repressive governments and there’s no denying that.”

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