Britain is now the second biggest arms dealer in the world after the United States with most of the weapons fuelling deadly conflicts in the Middle East.
The Independent reports that since 2010 Britain has sold arms to 22 of the 30 countries on the UK Government’s own human rights watch list.
The countries include Saudi Arabia, Israel, Bahrain and Turkmenistan.
A full two-thirds of UK weapons over this period were sold to Middle Eastern countries, where instability has fed into increased risk of terror threats to Britain and across the West.
Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade told The Independent: “These terrible figures expose the hypocrisy at the heart of UK foreign policy. The government is always telling us that it acts to promote human rights and democracy, but it is arming and supporting some of the most repressive regimes in the world. The impact of UK arms sales is clear in Yemen, where British fighter jets and bombs have been central to the Saudi-led destruction.”
A Government spokesperson said its approach to arms export control was “sufficiently tough”.
“The Government takes its arms export control responsibilities very seriously and operates one of the most robust regimes in the world. We rigorously examine every brokering application on a pre-licensing case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria.
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“Export licensing requires us to consider how the equipment will be used by the end-user and risks around human rights abuses are a key part of our assessment. We consider this approach to be sufficiently tough but where there is evidence of a need for further action we have the powers to do so under existing legislation”.