Government questioned over illegal arms trade

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Indy Politics
THE GOVERNMENT has been asked to reveal the extent of its knowledge of illegal arms dealing with Iran and Iraq. In questions tabled in the House of Lords, Lord Elis-Thomas has requested full information regarding allegations made in the press and by international investigators, writes Tim Kelsey.

The tabling office, which decides which questions can be asked, has rejected similar inquiries in the House of Commons. This will be the first time the Government has been forced to comment on these issues. The questions will be answered this month.

In particular, Lord Elis-Thomas has asked the Government whether it has any evidence which supports allegations made in the Independent concerning breaches of export rules by a company supplying weapon components to Iran. The company, Allivane, was involved in supplying Tehran with components for the manufacture of artillery shells during the mid- 1980s. The Government, according to former company executives, was kept fully informed.

Lord Elis-Thomas also asks the Government if it had any knowledge that a Chilean manufacturer was supplying arms to Iraq. The chief executive of this company said that the British and American authorities knew of his activities. He also requests whether evidence exists 'to support allegations . . . that Mr Mark Thatcher acted as a broker in illegal sales of military equipment . . . . '