British defence equipment 'diverted to Iraq': Thatcher given detailed reports about arms deals, inquiry told. David Connett reports
Tuesday 22 June 1993
Baroness Thatcher, the former prime minister, who signed the deal in 1985, received detailed reports every three months about this and other British arms deals, the Scott Inquiry was told yesterday.
The first warning from the Defence Intelligence Service came in November 1984, a month after Michael Heseltine, then Secretary of State for Defence, visited Amman for talks with King Hussein, the Jordanian leader, to clinch the deal. In December 1984, Britain adopted stricter guidelines restricting export of defence equipment to Iraq and Iran.
Despite continued intelligence warnings that Baghdad was bypassing the guidelines, a Ministry of Defence committee set up to vet defence equipment exports refused to extend its scrutiny of arms sales to Jordan and Egypt, Lt-Col Richard Glazebrook, a retired senior Army officer and committee member, told the inquiry.
He said defence intelligence warned that Jordan was passing nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) protective equipment to Iraq, as well as other military equipment. 'Unsubstantiated but very detailed' press reports and a number of 'unlikely' orders placed with British firms by the Jordanians reinforced his concern.
Lord Justice Scott's inquiry is investigating claims of ministerial and civil service collusion in defence exports which breached official guidelines and export control legislation.
Lt-Col Glazebrook said that despite the deepening and continuing concern of intelligence officers, Britain agreed an enhanced package of military sales to Jordan in 1987. It represented a 15 per cent increase on the earlier pounds 270m deal and included NBC equipment, thermal-imaging devices and electronic warfare equipment, which military experts attempted to prevent Baghdad from obtaining.
He was not told of the improved package for which Jordan received a loan from Britain. 'I had the uncomfortable feeling that things were going on behind my back of which I was not aware,' Lt-Col Glazebrook said. He only learnt the contents of the new deal after getting a copy of a quarterly report sent to Lady Thatcher and detailing British arms sales.
In 1987, fears that UK guidelines were being breached by Iraq through Jordan extended to Egypt, he said.
The MoD's arms working party, which vetted military exports, considered an application for the sale of British-supplied parts for ground-to- ground rockets to Egypt. Backed by military intelligence, he opposed it on the grounds that the parts could be diverted to Baghdad and adapted to carry chemical warheads, but he was overruled. After the Gulf war, rockets of the same type with warheads full of nerve gas were discovered by UN inspectors sent to destroy Iraq's chemical weapons stockpile. Lt-Col Glazebrook added that when there was a wide discussion about extending the weapons embargo to Egypt and Jordan it was overruled by the chairman of the arms working party.
The inquiry continues today.
Missing equipment, page 7
- 1 Huawei Mate S and Huawei Watch: new products take on iPhone 6 Plus and Apple Watch
- 2 More than 11,000 Icelanders offer to house Syrian refugees to help European crisis
- 3 If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don’t change Europe’s attitude to refugees, what will?
- 4 Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches, it's time to act
- 5 Make your voice heard: Sign The Independent's petition to welcome refugees
The difference between a migrant and refugee, in one sentence
Czech police haul migrants off trains to Germany and 'write numbers on their arms in ink'
Trans actress Candis Cayne reveals she walked out of a Curb Your Enthusiasm audition over an offensive joke
More than 11,000 Icelanders offer to house Syrian refugees to help European crisis
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don’t change Europe’s attitude to refugees, what will?
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
£19000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This recognized leader in providing software s...
£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...