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Britain Blocks Exports to Egyptian Army

Britain revokes export licenses for equipment used by Egypt's military and police, saying it could be used against protesters.
By Elad Benari, Canada
First Publish: 7/20/2013, 1:54 AM

Egyptian soldiers
Egyptian soldiers
Flash 90

Britain on Friday announced it was revoking export licenses for equipment used by Egypt's military and police amid concerns it could be used against protesters, AFP reported.

The licenses concerned cover components for armored personnel carriers and for machine guns, as well as radio and communications equipment, including for tanks, a spokeswoman for the business ministry told the news agency.

"We are deeply concerned about the situation in Egypt and the events which have led to the deaths of protesters," Business Secretary Vince Cable said in a statement quoted by AFP.

"The government takes its export responsibilities very seriously and operates one of the most rigorous arms export control regimes in the world."

He added, "Whilst we have no reports of British equipment being used in the unrest in Egypt, we have taken the decision to revoke five licenses."

Cable said Britain had a long-standing policy of refusing exports of goods used for internal repression.

"We will not grant export licenses where we judge there is a clear risk the goods might be used for internal repression, provoke or prolong conflict within a country, be used aggressively against another country or risk our national security," he said, according to AFP.

A report by the British parliament's committees on arms export controls on Wednesday raised questions about the 134 export licenses currently approved to Egypt, which are worth $90 million.

Other licensed products include body armor, military helmets, pistols, "acoustic devices for riot control", assault rifles, sniper rifles, weapon sights and combat shotguns, the report said.

Tens of thousands of Islamists poured onto Egypt's streets on Friday demanding the reinstatement of Mohammed Morsi, the president ousted by the army following huge street demonstrations against him.

Although mostly peaceful, the protests by Morsi loyalists have resulted in deadly clashes, with the unrest claiming more than 100 lives in all.

"All licenses for exports of controlled goods to Egypt have been assessed on a case-by-case basis against a range of internationally agreed stringent criteria which take into account the circumstances at the time the license application was made," Cable said.

"However, as a result of the changing situation in Egypt, we have conducted a review of UK export licenses to this country.

"When circumstances change or new information comes to light we can revoke extant licenses where the proposed export is no longer consistent with the criteria," he said.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)