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:
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)
- Terex Corporation (R)
- Inwako (A)
- TMG Engineering (K)
- XYY Options, Inc (A)
This piece ran in the Sunday Herald UK on Sunday 23 February 2003