Millions in EU weapons bolster Gadhafi

Feb. 25, 2011 at 10:07 AM
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BERLIN, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- European nations are major arms suppliers to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, an EU report shows.

The January survey, reported by Deutsche Welle Friday, names Italy and Malta as leading the trade with Libya among EU member states.

Russia, though, remains Libya's largest arms supplier, replacing Gadhafi's store of outdated Soviet weaponry.

In 2009, EU members granted Libya export licenses worth 343 million euros ($472 million) to Libya. Italy exported munitions worth $154 million, mostly aircraft.

Malta approved a $110 million shipment of small arms. The Maltese Embassy in Berlin acknowledged the report, but said some of its assertions were inaccurate.

Germany was third with $73 million in licenses, largely for jamming equipment for disrupting communications.

After Gadhafi dropped efforts to get weapons of mass destruction in 2003, the European Union lifted its arms embargo.

The United States has fewer military dealings with Libya, mainly in communications technology.

"As opposed to Europe, the general perception in the U.S. is to take a much harder line on Gadhafi," David Hartwell of IHS Jane's told Deutsche Welle. "There's a lot of political pressure within Congress not to do big business with Gadhafi after the Lockerbie bombing."

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