MADRID (Reuters) – Spain will go ahead with the sale of 400 laser-guided bombs to Saudi Arabia, Foreign Minister Josep Borrell said on Thursday, after the deal was halted amid concerns over the Saudi role in the war in Yemen.
“The decision is that these bombs will be delivered to honour a contract that comes from 2015, and was made by the previous government,” Borrell told Onda Cero radio.
Human rights groups including Amnesty International have denounced Western arms sales to Saudi Arabia and its allies in a war which the United Nations says has killed more than 10,000 people and left 8.4 million on the brink of famine.
Several government ministries had worked on the issue for a week and the contract was reviewed three times by a commission that authorises arms sales, Borrell said, adding, “We found no reason not to carry it out.”
Asked whether Spain had received any guarantees that the weapons would not be used against the civilian population in Yemen, Borrell said the laser-guided bombs hit their targets with “extraordinary precision” of within one metre.
“This kind of weapon does not produce the same sort of bombing as less sophisticated weapons, launched a bit randomly, that create the sort of tragedy that we have all condemned.”
The halting of the deal had created concerns in Spain over the future of a more lucrative contract, signed in July, for state-owned shipbuilder Navantia to supply warships to the Gulf kingdom.
The defence ministry said last month that the current Socialist government, which took power in June, had never sold arms that could be used against a civilian population and would review the criteria used to authorise arms sales.
(Reporting by Isla Binnie; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg)