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19 Aug, 2009 08:11

UK arm dealers accused of selling Soviet arms to blacklisted countries

Britain has begun an urgent investigation into allegations several UK arms brokers have sold arms to blacklisted countries, the British newspaper The Guardian reports.

A report from MPs to the British foreign secretary David Milliband shows brokers bought old Soviet weapons from Ukraine.

Ukraine’s deputy foreign minister, Aleksandr Gorin, handed a document with details of arms sales to a group of MPs in May during their visit to Kiev.

“The document contained a list of UK registered brokers to whom the Ukrainian State Service for Export Control had licensed the export of collectors' items (light arms) from the Soviet stockpile of weapons. We were alarmed to see that the end users on the list included countries for which there are Foreign and Commonwealth Office restrictions on the export of strategic goods,” says the report by the MPs, who are concerned by the lack of knowledge from the Foreign Office concerning the alleged arms deals.

The foreign secretary has asked the MPs not to publish the list of those involved until an investigation has been carried out. It is believed the brokers were licensed by the Ukrainian State Service for Export Control.

“From our perspective it would be preferable if the [committee] did not at this point make public the details contained in the list as it would alert the companies to the fact that we are investigating and might lead those who have committed an offence to try to cover their tracks,” the Foreign Office said.

It's unclear whether the Ukrainians knew who were the intended recipients of the weapons.