Spain cancels arms sale to Saudi Arabia over Yemen war concerns

Madrid to pay back the $10m (£7.8m) it has already received as part of the deal

Wednesday 05 September 2018 17:12 BST
Children sit amid the rubble of a house hit by Saudi-led coalition airstrikes
Children sit amid the rubble of a house hit by Saudi-led coalition airstrikes (AFP/Getty)

Spain’s defence ministry has cancelled sales of laser-guided bombs to Saudi Arabia because of concerns over the Yemen war.

Madrid signed a contract with Riyadh for 400 bombs in 2015. But it will now back out of the deal and return the $10m (£7.8m) they have already received.

Confirming the news, a Spanish government spokesperson declined to give any further details. There was no immediate response from Saudi authorities.

Last month the defence ministry said it had never sold arms that could be used against a civilian population, while condemning the killing of non-combatants in Yemen.

It added that it would review any possible sales that had not yet been closed and could be involved in attacks on civilians.

In April, Spain signed a framework agreement to sell warships to Saudi Arabia in a deal estimated to be worth around €1.8bn (£1.6bn).

Amnesty International and other human rights groups have denounced western arms sales to Saudi Arabia and its allies in a war which has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people and left 8.4 million on the brink of famine, according to the United Nations.

The Independent has previously revealed that the number of British-made bombs and missiles sold to Saudi Arabia since the start of its campaign in Yemen had risen by almost 500 per cent.

Earlier this year, judges granted the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (Caat) permission to appeal a ruling by the High Court that allowed the UK to continue granting export licences so Saudi Arabia, despite allegations British weapons had been used to kill civilians in Yemen.

Lawyers representing Caat argued that the decision to grant the licences was against British arms export policy, which states that the government must deny applications “if there is a clear risk that the items might be used in the commission of a serious violation of international humanitarian law”.

Agencies contributed to this report

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