‘Thriving off conflict’: UK is world’s second largest arms seller

© Neil Hall
Britain continues to sell arms to countries that commit human rights abuses and is now ranked second in the world for weapons sales, a report shows.

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The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) found the UK was second only to the United States in selling weapons in 2014.

Britain’s biggest arms company, BAE Systems, is the world’s third largest seller of weapons with over $25.7 billion in sales last year.

UK weapons sales made up 10.4 percent of the total $401 billion worth of arms sold around the world.

Other UK arms firms in the top 100 include Babcock (25), Serco (49), Cobham (53), QuinetiQ (72), GKN (70), and Meggitt (87).

Figures from SIPRI indicate the arms industry continues to profit from billions of pounds worth of sales to countries with poor human rights records, such as Saudi Arabia, Libya, Egypt, Bahrain, Syria, and Israel.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) confirmed to RT in June that it has sold weapons to Saudi Arabia that are being used in the country’s ongoing war in Yemen.

Observers including Amnesty International have accused the Gulf kingdom of committing possible war crimes in the conflict.

Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) spokesperson Andrew Smith told the CommonSpace news website that these British companies rely on government “compliance” to make money.

The fact that the UK arms trade comes second only to the United States is a sign of the support it gets from the UK government,” he said.

These companies thrive off conflict and rely on compliant governments in order to do so. BAE Systems, for example, does a huge amount of business in the Middle East, and its fighter jets are central to the destruction that has been unleashed on the people of Yemen.