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Outrage over Swedish arms sales to Saudis

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Outrage over Swedish arms sales to Saudis
18:19 CEST+02:00
Following a report at the weekend that Saab has once again signed a deal to sell equipment to Saudi Arabia, politicians on the left have called for an overhaul of Sweden's weapons export laws.

“We're talking about one of the world's worst dictatorships. We can't send weapons to dictatorships that should be buying food instead,” Green Party defence policy spokesperson Peter Rådberg told the TT news agency on Monday.

The comments come after a report published in Jane's Defence Weekly, one of the world's foremost publications on the defence industry, revealed Saudi Arabia as the buyer in a 4.5 billion kronor ($669 million) deal for a Saab-produced advanced early warning radar system.

The system, known as the Saab 2000 Airborne Early Warning & Control system, includes Saab 2000 aircraft equipped with the advanced ERIEYE radar system, as well as ground equipment and logistics and support services.

Saab announced the deal last week, but didn't divulge the name of the client.

According to Jane's, Saudi Arabia is interested in the Swedish system's ability to see low and slow-moving flying objects and because it works well over both land and water.

Rådberg was also reacting to statistics published on Monday from the Swedish Agency for Non-Proliferation and Export Controls (Inspektionen för strategiska produkter - ISP) which show that Saudi Arabia received arms shipments from Sweden as recently as August.

Swedish military products were also sent to Saudi Arabia in March, April and May of this year.

The exports in August and March were classified as combat materiel, which can include “missiles, rockets, torpedoes, bombs, etc.”

The opposition Red-Green coalition has long called for a comprehensive review of Sweden's arms export procedures. Rådberg added that deals like the one between Saab and Saudi Arabia wouldn't be allowed if the Green Party had the chance to decide on the matter.

Swedish military exports to Saudi Arabia also caused a stir earlier this year following a report that another Saab subsidiary, Saab Bofors Dynamics, sold anti-tank missiles to Saudi Arabia.

While Saab refused to confirm that it was involved in the deal, which was approved in 2002, it has since been sent to the Riksdag committee on the constitution for review.

Revelations about Swedish arms sales to Saudi Arabia also angered Hans Linde, foreign policy spokesperson for the Left Party, who blamed Sweden's complicated export rules.

“If we had gotten a red-green government we would have introduced legislation which, in my estimation, would have stopped weapons exports to countries like Saudi Arabia,” Linde told TT.

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