Sweden to ban arms sales to Mideast?

Oct. 14, 2010 at 4:19 PM
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STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Oct. 14 (UPI) -- Sweden's opposition wants to ban arms sales to undemocratic governments in the Middle East.

The left-wing opposition, including the Social Democrats, the Left and the Green Party, wants to introduce a bill in Parliament that would prevent sales to countries such as Saudi Arabia.

Swedish defense company Saab said last week it had sold Saab 2000 airborne early warning aircraft and accompanying ground equipment, logistics and support services for more than $600 million to an unidentified buyer.

The Green Party said the secret customer was South Arabia and condemned the deal.

"Saudi Arabia is a dictatorship state, one of the worst in the world. Sweden's arms export laws must be changed because we cannot continue to export weapons to such dictatorships," Peter Radberg, the defense spokesman of the Green Party, was quoted as saying by Defensenews.com.

Sweden's opposition aims to ban all weapons sales to the Middle East and plans to address the issue in Parliament in the form of a motion that could threaten the center-right minority government of Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt.

"We will put this motion to a vote," Radberg said. "This is a minority government. It is two seats short of a majority, so we will be pressing hard to have the government move swiftly on this issue."

Saab AB, the Swedish defense giant, is mainly building fighter aircraft such as the JAS 39 Gripen, a lightweight single engine multirole jet.

The Saab 2000 Erieye Airborne Early Warning & Control is a variant of a high-speed turboprop airplane with Erieye radar and associated mission systems, which Saab says has been well received by the market. The initial system was provided in a Saab 340 aircraft to the Swedish air force. The Saab 340 system was also purchased by Thailand and the United Arab Emirates.

The radar has been installed in the Embraer 145 as well, which was delivered to Brazil, Mexico and Greece. The latest platform is the Saab 2000 with which the system is being supplied also to Pakistan.

A neutral country during two world wars and still not a NATO member, Sweden this summer phased out obligatory military service, setting the Scandinavian nation on the way to getting a fully volunteer army.

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