Saudi Arabia admits it used UK-made cluster bombs in Yemen
according to rapporteur report from Guardian, link ,Saudi Arabia said it would cease to use UK-manufactured cluster bombs and that it had informed the UK government of this decision.
Ahmed Asiri, a spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen, said: “It has become apparent that there was limited use by the coalition of the UK-manufactured BL755 cluster munition in Yemen.”
The decision to stop using the cluster bombs follows an internal Saudi investigation conducted in discussion with the UK. Saudi officials said it had only been completed last week.
The admission came in advance of a statement by Britain’s defence secretary, Michael Fallon, admitting that UK-supplied cluster bombs had been used by Saudi Arabian-led forces. Fallon told the House of Commons that a “limited number” of BL755 cluster munitions exported from the UK in the 1980s had been dropped by the Arab coalition.
He said he welcomed Saudi Arabia’s confirmation it would not use further BL755 cluster munitions and that Britain’s sales of military equipment to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries would be kept under review.
The UK and US are supporting the Saudis against the Houthi militia, which is aligned with Iran. The Saudi-led air campaign has devastated huge swaths of rebel-controlled areas, with high civilian casualties. Last week the US suspended arms sales planned for Saudi Arabia but the UK, has refused to follow suit.
The UK government has been prevaricating for months on the issue of arms sales to Saudi Arabia, its biggest market for weapons sales. Adding to the embarrassment, the UK is a signatory to an international treaty banning cluster bombs.
The prime minister, Theresa May, refused to answer when pressed by the Scottish National party in the House of Commons about when she first became aware that UK-made cluster bombs were used by Saudi-led forces in Yemen.
The UK government’s line is that there had been no confirmation about the cluster bombs until the Saudis completed their inquiry last week.
Asiri, in a press release published in Al Arabiya newspaper, defended the use of the bombs. “This munition was used against legitimate military targets to defend Saudi towns and villages against continuous attacks by Houthi militia, which resulted in Saudi civilian casualties,” he said.
The UK has a military team in place at Saudi headquarters giving advice on the air campaign but the Ministry of Defence insists they do not help with targeting, simply advising on whether targets are not in breach of international law.
Asiri said the cluster bombs had been used only against “legitimate military targets” to protect civilian casualties in Saudi Arabia, but did not specify whether any Yemeni civilians had been killed.
The cluster bombs, the use of which was first raised by Amnesty International, had been used between December 2015 and January 2016 near al-Khadra in Yemen.
While the UK had stopped manufacturing cluster bombs in 1989 and signed up to a convention in 2008 not to use them, neither Saudi Arabia nor the US has signed the convention. Since the UK is an ally of both, and the convention says signatories should not aid or abet countries using them, the legal position is unclear.
Andrew Smith, a spokesman for the Campaign Against Arms Trade, said: “The use of UK cluster bombs by Saudi Arabia is characteristic of a brutal war and a brutal regime. If Saudi forces are prepared to use cluster bombs, then why is the UK continuing to arm and support the regime?
“Once a weapon has left these shores, there’s little if any control over where and when it will be used and who it will be used against. The UK must act now to stop the arms sales and to end its complicity in the humanitarian catastrophe that has been unleashed on the Yemeni people.”