Posted by D from 126.96.36.199.cfl.rr.com (188.8.131.52) on Wednesday, May 28, 2003 at 10:53PM :
Group of Eight countries are responsible for most of the global arms trade and repeatedly break their own promises by selling weapons to countries that violate human rights, according to a new report by rights watchdog Amnesty International.
The report, released less than two weeks before a summit of G8 leaders in the French town of Evian, said the five worst offenders – the United States, Russia, France, Britain and Germany, in that order - together accounted for at least two-thirds of global arms transactions between 1997 and 2001.
"As the G8 heads of state prepare for their summit in Evian, Amnesty International reveals that, despite assurances to the contrary, their governments are arming and supplying some of the world's worst abusers of human rights," the report added.
It singled out the United States as the world's top weapons supplier, accounting for 28 percent of global arms transfers.
But other G8 states could not escape criticism.
In particular, British military equipment had found its way into Israeli fighter jets despite an export ban on the country, Amnesty said.
In July last year the British government – which has in the past boasted of an "ethical foreign policy" - authorized the sale of Head-Up Displays to the United States, where they were to be incorporated into F-16 jets bound for Israel.
"That same month Israeli F-16 jets were used to drop a one-ton bomb on Gaza city, killing 17 people and wounding 70," the report said. "UK controls would not have allowed this equipment to go straight to Israel. But they still allow it to get there via an intermediate destination."
Israel shot up to fifth place in the world arms export league last year with record sales of $4.18 billion, 70 percent up on 2001. The largest contract was one of $700 million for modernizing tanks for the Turkish army, but the Israeli defense ministry said deals with India were largely responsible for the boom in sales. The main customer for the Jewish state's sophisticated arms industry remained the US, followed by unspecified countries in Asia, Europe and Latin America, with Africa lagging behind. The Israeli daily Haaretz reported that the US had lifted all objections to Israel's sale of Phalcon airborne radar systems worth $1 billion to India.
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