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Crowd control munitions supplied to Bahrain and Libya by UK

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

London, Feb 18, IRNA -- The British government is to review arms sales to Bahrain after being criticised for supplying deadly crowd control ammunition and chemicals thought to have been used by riot police against protesters in Pearl Roundabout.

According to the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT), equipment approved for export to Bahrain last year included tear gas, assault rifles, shotguns, sniper rifles, sub-machine gun and equipment for the use of aircraft cannons.

Approved sales to Libya, where there have also been protests, have included wall and door breaching projectile launchers, crowd control ammunition, small arms ammunition, tear gas/irritant ammunition, training tear gas/irritant ammunition.

“Government ministers claim they wish to support open and democratic societies in the Middle East but at the same time are aiding authoritarian regimes and providing the tools for repression,” said Sarah Waldron, Campaigns Coordinator at CAAT.

“There should be an immediate arms embargo – but more importantly we should be asking why these exports were ever licensed in the first place,” Waldron said.

Middle East Minister Alistair Burt said the government will 'urgently revoke licences if we judge that they are no longer in line with the [UK and European Union] criteria', after the issue was raised in parliament.

'We will not authorise any exports which, we assess, might provoke or prolong regional or internal conflicts, which might be used to facilitate internal repression,' Burt insisted.

Waldron also criticised the government for not just approving the sale of the arms but also for “actively” using UK Trade and Investment, Defence and Security Organisation (UKTI DSO) to promote the exports.

Despite the widespread uprisings in Arab countries, British arms manufacturers are due to attend IDEX, a major arms fair in Abu Dhabi this weekend to seek more sales. UKTI DSO has boasted that 10% of exhibitors will be British businesses and organisations.

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