Aletho News


British cluster bombs used in Saudi Arabia’s Yemen campaign, research finds

RT | December 19, 2016

Despite strenuous denials, UK-made cluster bombs are indeed being used by Britain’s theocratic ally Saudi Arabia in its war on impoverished Yemen, according to the government’s own inquiries.

The new details have emerged through a leak to the Guardian from sources which claim that internal investigations support claims in the media that the outlawed munitions are in use.

The source said that the findings had been known by the government for up to a month.

However, the paper has also been told that Saudi Arabia – a major UK ally and one of its top arms customers – has not confirmed itself that the banned munitions are being used.

The revelations seem set to pile even more pressure on the UK to stop selling arms to the authoritarian regime.

The UK is a signatory to the 2010 treaty banning cluster munitions, which drop many tiny bomblets from the main device and can create what is in effect a minefield.

A senior defense source told the Guardian that the issue had been “raised at the highest possible levels and we have been trying to establish definitively for some time [if cluster bombs have been used].”

The “highest levels” are said in this case to include Defence Secretary Michael Fallon.

In statement Monday after a spokesman for the military said: “The Government takes such allegations very seriously.

“We have analysed the case carefully using all available information, considering all possibilities, and raised the issue with the Saudi-led coalition.”

The UK has also been involved in training Saudi forces in air warfare skills and artillery, it emerged in 2016. Royal Air Force (RAF) personnel are also embedded in Saudi operations headquarters.

It was reported in April that courses were being run by RAF officers as recently as 2015 on ‘international targeting’ over three separate three-week blocks.

This included training on the Storm Shadow missile, which is launched from aircraft to destroy enemy bunkers.

Gunnery instruction on targeting and locating enemy gun batteries was also carried out by a seven-strong detachment of personnel from the Royal Artillery.

The artillery team delivered 52 hours of training to Saudi gunners and included a senior major, a captain, a sergeant major and a sergeant.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said the course had been delivered to “a mixed group of soldiers and officers” from the Royal Saudi Land Forces (RSLF) field artillery.

The military said its personnel were not involved in “carrying out strikes, directing or conducting operations in Yemen or selecting targets, and are not involved in the Saudi targeting decision-making process.”

December 19, 2016 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

NATO overcharged by £460m for fuel during Afghan war, MoD investigates

RT | September 7, 2015

Military police are examining claims that a defense contractor overcharged the armed forces by hundreds of millions of pounds for fuel during the war in Afghanistan.

An audit by NATO, which ran the operations in Afghanistan, suggests the alliance was overcharged by £460 million (US$700 million) by contractor Supreme Group.

Britain is thought to have paid for about 10 percent of the fuel used in Helmand Province, southern Afghanistan, during the conflict, meaning it could have been ripped off by up to £46 million, sources told the Telegraph newspaper.

On Sunday, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) confirmed an investigation was underway.

In December 2014, the Amsterdam-based Supreme Group’s food business was found guilty of overcharging the US military for supplies during the Afghan war and paid fines of $389 million, the most ever paid by a defense contractor.

Supreme won and ran lucrative contracts for British and US forces in both Iraq and Afghanistan during the wars and currently provides fuel for the Royal Air Force (RAF) and food to the MoD on a global scale.

“We are committed to getting the maximum value for money for the taxpayer and will always seek to recover any overpayments,” a spokesman for the MoD told the Telegraph.

“We are aware of the allegations of overcharging by Supreme and we have referred the matter to the Ministry of Defence Police Criminal Investigation Department.”

“The issue continues to be addressed by NATO through follow-on reviews and investigations into the matter by Allied Command Operations,” a NATO spokesman told the paper.

“Part of unduly paid costs have already been recovered. The recovery process continues. This however remains a complex and lengthy process, whose specific details cannot be revealed until its completion.”

Outsourcing services previously controlled by the military has increasingly become a part of the MoD’s cost cutting measures.

September 7, 2015 Posted by | Corruption | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Britain, France vow to strengthen cooperation in defense, nuclear energy

Xinhua | January 31, 2014

LONDON — British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande agreed Friday to beef up the two countries’ cooperation in defense, nuclear energy and climate policy.

Britain and France inked the cooperation deals at the UK-France Summit 2014 held in British royal air force station RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire of southeast England.

The two countries issued a communique setting out plans for joint investment in the procurement of defense equipment, joint training of armed forces and continued development of the Combined Joint Expeditionary Force, an Anglo-French joint military training and operation program.

“Britain and France are natural partners for defense cooperation,” British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond said, adding that the agreements reached at the summit would enhance the “interoperability” of British and French forces.

According to the agreements, the two countries are set to launch a two-year-long joint feasibility study program with an investment of 120 million pounds (about 197.4 million U.S. dollars) for a future Anglo-French combat air system.

Britain and France also agreed to invest in Britain’s major nuclear weapons base, the Atomic Weapons Establishment, to carry out safe testing of British and French stockpiles and achieve greater sharing of technical and scientific data for joint research.

The two nations pledged to join hands in tackling security issues, such as terrorism and drug and arms trafficking, in north and west Africa, as well as building on international peacekeeping missions in Libya, Mali and the Central African Republic.

In addition, the two sides declared their commitment to developing safe nuclear energy, collaborating on new nuclear power stations, combating climate change and pushing for European Commission’s domestic emissions reduction agenda.

“We reiterated our resolve to work together towards achieving an ambitious and legally-binding agreement at the next COP (UN Conference of the Parties on Climate Change) in Paris in 2015,” said Edward Davey, British Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.

See also: Britain, France sign nuclear energy agreement

February 1, 2014 Posted by | Militarism, Nuclear Power, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

UK to spend $6.5 bln on military drones

Voice of Russia | January 19, 2014

Britain announced its plans to spend more than $6.5 billion to purchase 657 military drones, the Sunday People reports. It includes 10 Reaper MQ-9s, which are armed with Hellfire ­missiles plus laser-guided 500lb bombs and can hover 20,000ft above targets for more than 20 hours.

According to the publication, Reapers could be operated 3,500 miles away from Afghanistan’s warzones by a two-man crew. Yet, most of the drones will be unarmed and constructed for spy or fly recce missions.

A Freedom of Information request found the biggest number of UK drones are the 324 Black Hornet Nano micro-helicopters, ­only four inches long and an inch wide (100x25mm). They fly over insurgent ­strongholds to film and take pictures. Then there are 222 Desert Hawks, plastic spy-drones with a 4ft 3in ­wingspan (1.3m).

For tougher operations, 54 Watchkeepers can stay aloft for 17 hours. Nine more are due in service soon to ­replace ­ageing Hermes 450s. By ­contrast 30 Tarantula Hawks weigh just 20lbs apiece and are used as recce aides by bomb-disposal teams in Afghanistan.

Lastly there are eight ScanEagles, a specialist drone being used in the ­campaign against Somali pirates.

Drones are likely to make up a third of all RAF working aircraft by 2030 but human rights groups fear they could be used to spy on the innocent public.

Although using unmanned aircraft in military operations is criticized by many people all over the world, the UK keeps on saying that drones are an effective weapon and should be used more in the foreseeable future.

Despite critics’ claims that drones often kill civilians, the UK says that only one civilian was killed as a result of 459 missile strikes from its unmanned Reaper aircraft in Afghanistan.

January 20, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

Activists to continue fight against UK drone secrecy

Press TV – October 31, 2013

Campaigners have vowed to continue fighting for greater transparency over the use of deadly British drones overseas despite losing an appeal calling for the UK involvement to be disclosed.

Anti-drone campaigners said they would pursue an end to the “culture of secrecy” surrounding London’s drone attacks in Afghanistan.

This came after the Information Tribunal agreed the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) refusal to reveal information on the deployment of remote- controlled unmanned warfare in the Asian country.

The appeal body said that the MoD can withhold basic details about its drone strikes in Afghanistan.

“The MOD referred to the disclosure of the requested information as involving ‘risk to life and limb’, the Commissioner used the phrase ‘life and death,’” the ruling stated.

However, strategy director of legal charity Reprieve Cori Crider described the ruling as “disappointing”, saying “the US-UK drone wars must be brought out of the shadows.”

“We know that the UK is closely involved in supporting the CIA in carrying out these illegal strikes, yet they are still refusing to come clean,” Crider said.

Recently, it was revealed that the UK’s Royal Air Force (RAF) assassination drones, used in missions over Afghanistan, are controlled from British soil for the first time.

The MoD confirmed that its new aircraft, known as XIII Squadron, started flying missions over Afghanistan earlier in April from RAF Waddington base in Lincolnshire.

According to media reports, Britain has spent more than £2 billion over the last five years, developing its unethical assassination drones.

The deployment of assassination drones by the US and its allies has led to deaths of at least hundreds of innocent civilians, including many women and children, in the Middle East.

October 31, 2013 Posted by | Deception, War Crimes | , , , , , | Leave a comment