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Sweden's Saab sold arms to Saudi Arabia: report

TT/The Local · 17 Sep 2010, 14:56

Published: 17 Sep 2010 07:45 GMT+02:00
Updated: 17 Sep 2010 14:56 GMT+02:00

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Saab Bofors Dynamics will neither confirm nor deny the report, which surfaced late Thursday night on the website of the financial daily Dagens Industri (DI).

Saab Group spokesperson Peter Liander also remained tightlipped about the deal.

“We can neither confirm nor deny that we’ve sold weapons to Saudi Arabia,” he told the TT news agency.

Prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt denies that his government had any knowledge of selling weapons to Saudi Arabia, claiming that a decision about the deal was taken well before he became prime minister.

“This is a decision which took place a long time ago. According to the information I’ve received, it’s as far back as 2002,” Reinfeldt told the TT news agency.

He went on to explain that trade minister Björling wasn’t aware of the deal because it was decided under a previous government.

Andreas Ekman Duse, the head of the Swedish Agency for Non-Proliferation and Export Controls (Inspektionen för strategiska produkter - ISP), told TT that he can’t comment on the matter and directed all questions to the company.

According to DI, Saab announced it had received two export orders in December 2007, one of which involved the BILL 2 anti-tank missile.

At the time, Saab chose not to release the name of the buyer.

But several independent sources told the newspaper that the buyer is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, marking the first time that a Swedish defence company has sold combat materiel to the country.

In the wake of the revelations, opinion remains divided over exactly who within the Swedish government is responsible for the matter.

A spokesperson for defence minister Sten Tolgfors told TT the deal falls under the purview of trade minister Ewa Björling.

But Monica Ohlsson, a spokesperson for the trade minister, claimed the matter was the sole responsibility of the independent ISP, which makes assessments of individual deals.

“ISP can also decide to pass along matters of fundamental importance to the government, and for those sort of matters Carl Bildt is responsible,” said Ohlsson, adding that Björling hadn’t received any information about a deal between Saab and Saudi Arabia.

In a statement, ISP explains that during the last ten years the agency has assessed a number of requests to export defence-related material to Saudi Arabia and that some requests have been approved and some have been denied.

According to ISP statistics on Swedish arms exports from March of this year, Saudi Arabia was one of the countries which received combat-related materiel from Sweden. The exports were grouped in two classifications, one which encompasses “missiles, rockets, torpedoes, bombs, etc.” and another which includes equipment for controlling and guiding, and which can be used to control missiles.

Anna Ek, secretary general of Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society (SPAS), said that the revelations show it’s high time to put democratic criteria into Swedish regulations on weapons exports.

“We have long suspected that exports to Saudi Arabia, which have increased from year to year, will pave the way for wide-ranging weapons exports,” she told TT.

Left Party leader Lars Ohly said that, if the information about the Saudi arms deal is true, that is a “clear breach of a Riksdag decision”.

Story continues below…

“If the government thinks we should have these types of deals with one of the worst dictatorial regimes in the world, then they ought to defend it out in the open,” said Ohly.

Foreign minister Carl Bildt told TT that he hadn’t made any decision about the sale.

“It’s clearly an old permit from 2002. In sensitive cases, it’s up to the government to decide and therefore it would come to me. And in this matter it hasn’t come to me. To the extent that it was referred to a government, it was referred to a previous government,” said Bildt.

Bildt refused, however, to comment on the deal specifically.

“For the simple reason that it’s an old permit from ISP which was granted by a parliamentary commission.”

TT/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

11:07 September 17, 2010 by Audrian
What kind of morality are the politicians talking about?

The US is the most violent country on planet earth, with imperial outreach in Asia, Middle East, Africa and Latin America. As President Bush had said to the President of Argentine, just before he left office, war is a remedy for recession.

Sweden had supplied weapon technology to the US in the past. Sweden is also participating in America's war in Afghanistan.

The next target of invasion by the US is Iran. As a preparation for invasion of Iran, the US has kept several military bases around this country, including 50,000 soldiers in Iraq. This month the US signed agreement with Saudi Arabia to sell to it US$60 billion worth of modern weapons. Selling additional weapons to Saudi Arabia by Sweden is part of this scheme.
12:09 September 17, 2010 by Nemesis
What are people complaining about. SAAB should be congratulated for exporting in the middle of a recession.

A lot of people need jobs. Anyone complaining about this should provide jobs to those that would not be working if these sales did not take place or shut up.

If the Saudi's want to slaughter themselves, that is there perogative. Let them.

SAAB should flood Saudi Arabia with weapons and get as many people in Sweden working as possible, making those weapons.

The sales team in SAAB should be congratulated and encouraged to sell more.
14:34 September 17, 2010 by Audrian

The justification you provided for selling weapons to Saudi Arabia will come bank to haunt you. Using the same rational a third country might sell weapons of mass destruction to Sweden's enemies.

Sweden can achieve full employment without engaing itself in weapon's trade and war. For example, Swedish capital and know-how can be diverted to environmental and energy programs; and develop the accompanying complex technology associated with it. It is estimated that the market size for such technologies could run in US$300b per year in the immediate future.

The reason why the US is permanent state of war is the military industrial complex. Weapons have to be sold to make money and the corporations involved in the profuctions of weapons invariably drive their government to war.
14:55 September 17, 2010 by Nemesis
@ Audrian

If some idiot friend of Saudi is stupid enough to attack a European country, it will come back to haunt them.

The USA is in a state of perpetual warfare because US citizens vote for governments that are as blood thirsty, as the voters. The voters as well as the military-industrial complex are to blame for that. The voters have a choice which they coose not to excercise.

Until the US actually develops politics based in something resembling sanity, that will remain the case. All the signs are of US politics becoming more deranged as time goes on, so no hope of the USA changing track.
15:16 September 17, 2010 by GefleFrequentFlyer
What's the problem here? How is this news?
15:23 September 17, 2010 by bcterry
Sweden sends them weapons, and Saudi sends the "best islamic state in the world" wahhabism.

"Saudi Arabia and the Rise of the Wahhabi Threat"
22:15 September 17, 2010 by voiceofreason
who needs (Sitting Ducks) Anti-Tank missiles against fast-moving M1 Abraham tanks that can take out any target accurately from more than 3km away while on top speed.

Arab forces have proven incompetent in direct conventional military engagements, there best shot is taken from the middle floor of a crowded apartment complex with human shields all around. The Taliban are a better fighting force but they aren't Arabs.
08:46 September 18, 2010 by anglesaxon
if sweden dont sell arms to them the yanks,brits or the french will.the country isnt free but at least theyre "our allies" [for the time being]
13:24 September 18, 2010 by AndreaGerak
My 50 Öre:

14:19 September 18, 2010 by jackx123
Honestly, you swedes are morons. The entire world is exporting "guns" for trillions of dollars and you take on your shoulders to be the peace keepers - LMAO. Give me a break.
17:32 September 18, 2010 by voidplay
USA, Russia, Germany, France, UK, Netherlands, Spain, China, Israel, Netherlands, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, Canada, South Korea are the top defense exporters.

There is no doubt and this is no surprise that peace loving countries like Sweden and Norway who want to cut down on their forces could also sustain a large defense industry without selling to the 'rouge' nations.

While crying foul about N.Korea or Iran for producing their own weapons. Am I the only one who thinks that a nuclear powered Iran could mean bad business for the conventional weapons business?

But the fact that people question such double standards is a good thing, rather than a bad one. Probably there is more real democracy and sane decision making by the Swedes than the morality chest beaters.
21:02 September 18, 2010 by Iraniboy
I wonder if there is any arm producer in the world which hasn't sold to Saudi Arabia!!
08:59 September 19, 2010 by wenddiver
Anybody think maybe the Saudis live in a bad neighborhood and need the weaponry???? I bet the Swedish defence budget would be a lot bigger if they had crazies like Iran for neighbors.

Waite to see what they buy when Iran goes Nuclear!! Hint: Large, radioactive, and produces the surface tempature of the Sun at the target.
12:15 September 19, 2010 by Torontonian
Saudi Arabia, whose population except for the petrol-rich tribes associated with the House of Saud, are as dirt poor as Mauritania. Who amputates hand and heads with gleeful abandon. Who mutilates the genitals of young girls, and stones them to death if they are victims of rape. Who has never bothered to try any form of democracy or multiculturalism, forbidding any religion save for Islam. Who, but for the geological freak of nature putting vast wealth (for a select few) under their feet, has never learned how to manufacture anything of sufficient quality to trade on the world market, and would not stand a chance of recognition in the modern world. Comes now Sweden of all nations, to give sell them arms. Wow.
12:52 September 19, 2010 by hjoian
Typical Swedish behaviour to pass the buck about knowledge of this deal....i get this everytime in Skattsverket or migrationsverket....no one knows anything!

Sweden has been making money from arms for a long time. I dont see why this is news. Why shouldnt Saudi have arms......its probably one of the few countries that actually have the finances in place to be able to buy what it needs.

And so what if it is an Islam state, who are YOU to decide whats right?
14:18 September 19, 2010 by Jes
Why not ?

USA has fixed an arms deal worth 61 billion dollars . If Sweden jumps out of the market , China and Russia will be very ready to enter .

This is not a moral question ; it is of business and influence .

But if the international community thinks that Saudi Arabia is unfitt for arms supply , then UN should step forward and announce an embargo .
21:39 September 19, 2010 by americanska
I think nemesis and audrian probably get together at night and rub each other off while whispering conspiracy theories about the USA to each other.

I think if sweden is going to allow these sales then they should also be forced to defend themselves rather than the USA doing it for them every time.
00:46 September 20, 2010 by jbat
Agree with Audrian...

"The reason why the US is permanent state of war is the military industrial complex. Weapons have to be sold to make money and the corporations involved in the profuctions of weapons invariably drive their government to war."

Watch Charlie Wilson's War (2007) movie

or read here for those who still still still don´t know....


And finally.. the real terrorist and the only one who should be blame are... the person with the name "Muslim" :-)

Sorry.. i never support terrorism... just wish to show the root of terrorism, where they really come from... and I know too, that there are not so much we can do about this, even the leaders of the good army cannot prevent it (they need money to win elections and bla bla bla... )....
00:52 September 20, 2010 by sendia
I don't see what's the big deal unless they are using it against the terrorists (whom they are fighting presently). Its not like they can become a threat to any European country or even Israel with these arms which are being exported.


"If the Saudi's want to slaughter themselves, that is there perogative. Let them."

You are missing a catch here, they would come to Sweden as refugees. Now do you welcome that !
20:17 March 15, 2012 by mesho

above of all you have to respect your self

and Saudi country never get upset if you don't want to sale this little weapons

and i think the people prefer to killed in thier country to protect it better than go to Sweden as refugees.
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