Spain cancels sale of 400 bombs to Saudi Arabia

AFP, MADRID

Wed, Sep 05, 2018 - Page 6

Spain yesterday said it had canceled a 2015 deal to sell 400 laser-guided bombs to Saudi Arabia, which is leading a coalition fighting rebels in Yemen.

A Spanish Ministry of Defense spokesman confirmed a Cadena Ser radio report that said Spain’s new Socialist government planned to return the 9.2 million euros (US$10.6 million) already paid by the Saudis for the arms under a deal signed by the previous conservative administration.

AIRSTRIKE

The spokesman declined to elaborate, but the announcement comes after an airstrike last month by the Saudi Arabian-led coalition battling rebels in Yemen that killed dozens of civilians, including 40 children.

The incident sparked a wave of international anger and calls by the UN Security Council for a “credible and transparent” investigation.

The coalition had claimed to have targeted a bus carrying rebels.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other allies intervened in Yemen in March 2015 after Houthi rebels linked to Iran ousted Yemeni President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government from the capital, Sana’a, and seized swathes of the country.

Nearly 10,000 people have been killed in the conflict since then, 2,200 of them children, and sparked what the UN has described as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

ARMS EXPORT

Amnesty International says Spain is one of biggest arms exporters to Saudi Arabia.

It and other rights groups, including Greenpeace and Oxfam, yesterday urged Spain to stop all arm sales to Saudi Arabia and Israel, saying the weapons are often used against civilians.

Spain signed an agreement with Saudi Arabia in April to sell the Gulf Arab state five small warships of the corvette type in a deal estimated to be worth about 1.8 billion euros.