Tuesday, September 11, 2012

10/12/2002
A British Minister will lead a major sales drive by UK weapons and military technology firms at an exhibition attended by high-ranking Iraqi military officials this week.
The news has sparked outrage among arms control campaigners and groups opposed to military action against Iraq. 'It is absurd that we are gearing up to fight a war against these people and simultaneously rubbing shoulders with them at an arms bazaar,' said Martin Hogbin of the Campaign Against Arms Trade.

Around a dozen British firms will be displaying equipment such as tanks, thermal imaging night sights and state-of-the-art air defence missiles at the exhibition in Amman, Jordan. Machine tools that could be used to produce weapons will also be on show. The government-run Defence Export Services Organisation will also have a stall.

Promotional material for the Sofex military fair boasts that Saddam Hussein is sending an official delegation. Sultan Hashim Ahmad, the Iraqi Defence Minister, attended the last Sofex. Sudan, Syria, Libya and Iran - all listed as sponsors of terrorism by the US State Department - are also expected to attend.

'It's an appalling example of double standards. Where there is a buck to be made, we're there,' said Andrew Bergen, spokesman for the Stop the War Coalition, which campaigns against military action against Iraq.

In the Eighties the UK and US supplied Iraq with millions of pounds' worth of military equipment. Baghdad used British companies to procure 'dual-use' machine tools to make ammunition. Even though the UK had imposed an embargo on 'lethal equipment', the Conservative Government let the sales proceed.

The Ministry of Defence confirmed last week that Lord Bach, the Defence Procurement Minister, would be attending the fair. 'Sofex allows the UK defence industry to demonstrate its product range to a number of potential overseas customers very effectively,' said an MoD spokesman.

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