UK Defense Secretary Michael Fallon has called missiles producer MBDA, known for controversial arms sales to Saudi Arabia “role model” of cooperation, while unveiling multimillion deals between the firm and the UK government. Addressing MBDA’s staffers in Stevenage on Friday, Michael Fallon praised it for building “a great reputation” supplying British armed forces in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, thanking the company for “sterling service.”
Speaking about the effect which Brexit may have on the UK’s position in the world, Fallon assured that it is “going to become an even more global country, reaching out to our friends and allies across the world,” citing extensive cooperation between multinational MBDA, which has offices in UK, France, Italy, Germany and US, as an example. “You are a role model here for the kind of partnerships we’ll be seeking in future: for our defense, for our manufacturing, and for our country,” .
MBDA, which is jointly owned by BAE Systems, the UK’s largest defense company, Airbus and Italian aerospace defense and security firm Leonardo, is actively engaged in arming the Saudi Air Force with lethal weaponry, including Shadow long-range cruise missiles and Brimstone air-to-surface missiles.
Responding to Parliamentary question in September last year, Fallon confirmed that among UK-supplied weapons, used in war-ravaged Yemen since January 2015, were the MBDA-produced missiles along with Pave way guided bombs, as well as PGM500 and ALARM anti-radiation missiles.
Right groups have been calling on arms manufacturers to stop supplying arms to the Saudi-led coalition, saying that makes them complicit in possible war crimes on the Yemeni soil.
In January, Fallon was forced to confirm that outlawed cluster bombs, made in the UK and exported to Saudi Arabia in late 1980s, were being dropped by Saudi warplanes in Yemen. Following the revelations, Riyadh announced it was halting the use of those munitions after almost two years into the conflict.
As the pressure mounts for the UK to curb multi-million arms sales, Fallon defended the decision to proceed with supplying the Gulf country with deadly weapons on Friday, refusing to admit that it was a mistake in the first place to authorize the shipments.
“Saudi Arabia has the right to defend itself. It’s being attacked by Houthi missiles over its southern border and is also attempting to restore the legitimate government of Yemen,” Fallon said in an interview to the Independent, claiming that all export applications from Saudi Arabia are thoroughly examined.
Moreover, he appeared to encourage BAE in their bid to boost arm sales to the Kingdom: “Are we supporting them? Absolutely. It’s something ministers have been pressing with the Saudi government for a number of years now,” he said, referring to the company’s plans to land a new arms contract with the Saudi government.
the source : RT News