Arms sales to Saudi Arabia questioned

Summary: arms sales to Saudi Arabia by US, UK and France criticised, but governments undeterred. Missiles/nuclear. 

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  1. ‘But the new Minister of State for foreign affairs Andrew Murrison said rather miserably that “if the United Kingdom did not sell arms in the way it does, for legitimate self-defence in accordance with international law, other countries would do so, and probably a lot less ethically.”‘

    ‘There is of course some justification at least for the first part of this formula.’

    This is an oft-repeated mantra – which has gained some substance through its repetition – however, it’s less accurate than those in favour of arms exports would have one believe. Most modern weapons systems are systems of systems; there are huge challenges in compatibility, in particular dimensions and – increasingly – software. (Sometimes, this is intentional: the PRC’s 82mm mortar can fire NATO 81mm mortar rounds in extremis, but not vice versa.)

    While interoperability between NATO systems has been designed ab initio, switching to Warsaw Pact or PRC etc weapon systems would probably require extensive procurement of materiel, spares, training (possibly including new languages), maintenance etc. Further, while some of the items are on the shelf, many are made to order, and require extensive lead-times.

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