SEVENTEEN British companies who supplied Iraq
with nuclear, biological, chemical, rocket and conventional weapons
technology are to be investigated and could face prosecution
following a Sunday Herald investigation.
One of the companies is Inter national Military Services, a part
of the Ministry of Defence, which sold rocket technology to Iraq.
The companies were named by Iraq in a 12,000 page dossier submitted
to the UN in December. The Security Council agreed to US requests to
censor 8000 pages -- including sections naming western businesses
which aided Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programme.
The five permanent members of the security council -- Britain,
France, Russia, America and China -- are named as allowing companies
to sell weapons technology to Iraq.
The dossier claims 24 US firms sold Iraq weapons. Hewlett-Packard
sold nuclear and rocket technology; Dupont sold nuclear technology,
and Eastman Kodak sold rocket capabilities. The dossier also says
some '50 subsidiaries of foreign enterprises conducted their arms
business with Iraq from the US'.
It claims the US ministries of defence, energy, trade and agri
culture, and the Lawrence Livermore, Los Alamos and Sandia National
Laboratories, supplied Iraq with WMD technology.
Germany, currently opposed to war, is shown to be Iraq's biggest
arms-trading partner with 80 companies selling weapons technology,
including Siemens. It sold medical machines with dual-purpose parts
used to detonate nuclear bombs. The German government reportedly
'actively encouraged' weapons co-operation and assistance was
allegedly given to Iraq in developing poison gas used against Kurds.
In China three companies traded weapons technology; in France
eight and in Russia six. Other countries included Japan with five
companies; Holland with three; Belgium with seven; Spain with three
and Sweden with two, including Saab.
The UN claims publicly naming the companies would be
counter-productive. Although most of the trade ended in 1991 on the
outbreak of the Gulf War, at least two of the five permanent
security council members -- Russia and China -- traded arms with
Iraq in breach of UN resolutions after 1991. All trade in WMD
technology has been outlawed for decades.
UNSCOM found documents showing preparations by the Russian firms
Livinvest, Mars Rotor and Niikhism to supply parts for military
helicopters in 1995. In April 1995, Mars Rotor and Niikhism sold
parts used in long-range missiles to a Palestinian who transported
them to Baghdad. In 2001 and 2002, the Chinese firm Huawei
Technologies sent supplies to Iraqi air defence.
Foreign companies supplied Iraq's nuclear weapons programme with
detonators, fissionable material and parts for a uranium enrichment
plant. Foreign companies also provided Iraq's chemical and
biological programmes with basic materials; helped with building
labs; assisted the extension of missile ranges; provided technology
to fit missiles with nuclear, biological and chemical warheads; and
supplied Scud mobile launch-pads. Nearly all the weapons that were
supplied have been destroyed, accounted for or immobilised,
according to former weapons inspectors.
The Foreign Office said: 'The UK will investigate and, if
appropriate, prosecute any UK company found to have been in breach
of export control legislation.' The Department of Trade and Industry
said details on export licences, including information on weapons
sold to Iraq, was unavailable.
A spokesman for one of the British companies named, Endshire
Export Marketing, said it had sold a consignment of magnets to a
German middle-man who sold them to Iraq. Responding to claims that
magnets could be used in a nuclear programme, the spokesman said:
'I've no idea if this is the case. I couldn't tell one end of a
nuclear bomb from the other.' The company was included on a US
boycott list in 1991.
He said the company considered the deal 'genuine business' at the
time but that, with the 'benefit of hindsight', the firm would not
have taken part in the deal. A spokesman for the MoD's International
Military Services said he could not comment as no staff from 1991
were on the payroll and no documents from then existed.
Mick Napier of the Stop The War Coalition said: 'How can we
support a government which says it's against mass murder when its
record is one of supporting and supplying Iraq? This government
depends on public mass amnesia.'
Tommy Sheridan, leader of the Scottish Socialist Party, said:
'The evidence of British armament companies, with central government
support, arming the Butcher of Baghdad lays to rest the moral
garbage spewed from the British government. It exposes the fact that
Britain, along with America, France and Russia, armed Saddam to the
teeth while he was butchering his own people.'
Labour MP Tam Dalyell said: 'What the Sunday Herald has printed
is of huge significance. It exposes the hypocrisy of Blair and Bush.
The chickenhawks who want war were up to their necks in arms deals.
This drives a coach and horses through the moral case for war.'
UK firms that sold arms to Iraq
Key: A -- nuclear, B -- biological, C -- chemical, R --
rocket, K -- conventional
Euromac Ltd-UK (A)
C Plath-Nuclear (A)
Endshire Export Marketing (A)
International Computer Systems (A, R, K)
MEED International (A, C)
Walter Somers Ltd. (R)
International Computer Limited (A, K)
Matrix Churchill Corp. (A)
Ali Ashour Daghir (A)
International Military Services (R)
Sheffield Forgemasters (R)
Technology Development Group (R)
International Signal and Control (R)
TMG Engineering (K)
XYY Options, Inc (A)
23 February 2003