Letter: Mining secrets

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The Independent Online
YOUR REPORT on British Aerospace's supply of RDX explosive to the US Army, and the lack of safeguards to prevent the illegal use of the explosive in future American landmines, suggests Stephen Byers has slipped up ("BAe in a fix over mines contract", 1 August). For the Trade and Industry Department told your reporter that before the grant of an export licence all exports of military explosives receive "rigorous scrutiny".

What such scrutiny entails we are not allowed to know for the DTI invariably refuses to discuss contracts such as BAe's. We do know that in the past the DTI has also approved sales of anti-personnel mines, which continue to wreck lives in countries such as Afghanistan, Mozambique and Somalia. The details of these exports remain secret.

The UK took a strong stand against the production and export of landmines when it ratified the Ottawa Treaty. If Mr Byers wants to play his part he should ensure his officials give full details about exports of landmines and potential components.


UK Working Group on Landmines

London N19