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Just Business: UK Arms Sales to 'Oppressive Regimes' Tops $4.3Bln Per Year

© AP Photo / Mohammed ZaatariA cluster bomb
A cluster bomb - Sputnik International
The United Kingdom has sold over 3 billion pounds ($4.3 billion) of weapons a year to governments it identified as human rights violators, figures obtained by The Observer weekly revealed.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Prime Minister David Cameron’s government licensed more than 3 billion pounds of British-made bombs and missiles in 2015 to 21 of the 30 countries the Foreign Office (FCO) identified as "human rights priority countries," The Observer weekly said late Saturday.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Burundi and the Maldives were among the countries where the FCO said "the worst, or greatest number of, human rights violations take place."

People gather at the site of a Saudi-led air strike in Yemen's capital Sanaa September 22, 2015. Warplanes from a Saudi-led alliance bombed two houses in Yemen's capital on Tuesday, killing at least 20 people, medics and local officials said - Sputnik International
London Fuels 'Brutal War' in Yemen Supplying Riyadh With Cluster Bombs
The nearly 18-fold spike from 170 million pounds of arms licenses to "priority" countries in 2014 is largely attributed to weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, the publication added.

It listed a 1.7 billion pound fighter jet license granted in May 2015, the export of 990 million pound air-to-air missiles in July, and the sale of 62 million pound bombs approved in September.

Last month, The Guardian cited government figures as saying 122 UK arms export licenses to Saudi Arabia totaled 2.8 billion pounds since Riyadh began anti-Houthi airstrikes in Yemen in March 2015.

On Monday, rights advocacy group Amnesty International published evidence revealing that Saudi Arabia had used UK-manufactured "BL-755" cluster bombs in Yemen against the Shiite Houthi rebels.

On Saturday, the publication said a high court would determine whether a legal challenge against the UK’s arms sales to Saudi Arabia brought by the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) watchdog is legal. The UK Committees on Arms Export Controls (CAEC) launched an inquiry into the use of UK-produced arms in the Yemen conflict in March this year.

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