BAe in a fix over `mines' contract headache

A SUBSIDIARY of British Aerospace, the UK's biggest weapons manufacturer, is trying to renegotiate a contract to supply explosives to the American army in an effort to prevent their use in anti-personnel mines.

The move has been prompted by an exclusive report by the Independent on Sunday in June that the subsidiary, Royal Ordnance, is exporting RDX, an ingredient commonly used in landmines, to the United States.

Royal Ordnance has a five-year contract worth $88m (pounds 55m) to be the US Army's sole supplier of RDX and is exporting 40 per cent of the explosives from its factory at Bridgwater in Somerset.

Royal Ordnance also has a 25-year contract to operate the Army ammunition plant in Holston, Tennessee, the only American plant capable of manu- facturing RDX and the source of explosives used in millions of American mines.

The Landmines Act, passed by Parliament last year, makes the manufacture of anti-personnel mines or their components an offence punishable by up to 14 years in jail and/or an unlimited fine. Avon and Somerset Police have already forwarded a file for investigation by Customs and Excise after a complaint from the Campaign Against the Arms Trade, the leading organisation opposed to the production and use of landmines.

Nick Harvey, MP, the Liberal Democrats' campaign and communications chair, who has criticised BAe for failing to make it clear that RDX was not to be used in the production of landmines, said: "BAe is entirely at the mercy of US policy. They're in a bind and the fact that they're having afterthoughts suggests they recognise that. If the Americans don't agree [to a new clause] I think BAe will have to cancel the contract."

A spokesman for the US Army said it and Royal Ordnance "are addressing any potential problems the UK constraints may have".

"In the interim," he said, "the US Army has agreed to identify the end- use for bulk explosives ... to assure Royal Ordnance that any conflict with the UK restrictions is not being created."

A BAe spokesman added: "We are in discussion with the US Army who are well aware of our obligations under the Ottawa Convention and the UK Landmines Act. We will not break the law."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: They make daily deliveries to most foodservice...

Recruitment Genius: Transport Planner

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: They make daily deliveries to most foodservice...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - C#, ASP.Net, MVC, jQuery

£42000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is looking for a C# ...

Recruitment Genius: General Driver - Automotive

£15500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the South East's leading Motor Re...

Day In a Page

Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash
I would never quit Labour, says Liz Kendall

I would never quit party, says Liz Kendall

Latest on the Labour leadership contest
Froome seals second Tour de France victory

Never mind Pinot, it’s bubbly for Froome

Second Tour de France victory all but sealed
Oh really? How the 'lowest form of wit' makes people brighter and more creative

The uses of sarcasm

'Lowest form of wit' actually makes people brighter and more creative
A magazine editor with no vanity, and lots of flair

No vanity, but lots of flair

A tribute to the magazine editor Ingrid Sischy
Foraging: How the British rediscovered their taste for chasing after wild food

In praise of foraging

How the British rediscovered their taste for wild food