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Spain beats its own record with €4.3 billion in weapons exports

Saudi Arabia is the country’s best client outside of the European Union and NATO

A400M military plane made in Seville. Ampliar foto
A400M military plane made in Seville. AP

For the second year in a row, Spain has shattered its own record for weapons exports. The country sold military equipment worth €4.3 billion last year, a 7.3% rise from 2016.

The rise is part of a global increase in weapons transfers that began in the early 2000s, according to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. According to this analysis, Spain was the seventh-largest exporter of weapons last year.

The Spanish government denied permission for four sales last year

Outside the European Union, which accounts for 72.6% of Spain’s weapons exports, the country’s biggest client was Saudi Arabia with €270.2 million in sales, a 133% rise from 2016.

The Spanish government denied permission for four sales last year, including two shipments of equipment worth €1.9 million that would have gone to Israel. A sale to China and another one to Myanmar also failed to secure authorization.

Germany was Spain’s top client last year, purchasing €1.2 billion worth of weapons, according to a report filed with Congress by the Office of the Secretary of State for Commerce. Other major clients were Britain, France and Turkey.

Spain beats its own record with €4.3 billion in weapons exports

In all of these cases, the bulk of the sales represented aircraft that are assembled at a plant in Seville. These planes account for 79% of Spain’s military exports.

Outside the EU, Saudi Arabia replaced Egypt as Spain’s top client last year, spending €270.2 million on a carrier aircraft, unmanned aircraft, replacement parts, mortar shells and more.

Ever since Saudi Arabia launched a military operation in Yemen in 2015, its purchases of Spanish ammunition have nearly tripled, rising from €34.7 million in 2016 to €90.1 million in 2017. In Yemen, Saudi Arabia heads a coalition that’s been accused of crimes against humanity.

Ever since Saudi Arabia launched a military operation in Yemen, its purchases of Spanish ammunition have nearly tripled

The Spanish government said that “all licenses relating to ammunition [for Riyadh] came with end-user certificates containing strict clauses forbidding re-export and use outside national territory.”

But non-profit groups such as Amnesty International, Oxfam Intermon and Greenpeace say that there is no proper monitoring of the final use of these weapons.

In the Middle East, Iraq is another major client, followed by the United Arab Emirates. In the Maghreb region, Morocco and Tunisia purchased €14.8 million and €11.4 million worth of weapons, respectively.

In Latin America, Venezuela bought military equipment worth €3.4 million, while Ukraine spent nearly €231,000 on defense material.

Japan, the United States and Ghana were the biggest recipients of hunting and sporting guns.

English version by Susana Urra.

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