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Iraqi Authority (Arms)

Volume 447: debated on Thursday 15 June 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence further to his Departmental Minute of 15 December 2004, on the gifting of military arms and equipment to the Iraqi interim authority in relation to the 5,666 9mm pistols, what was their (a) cost, (b) model and manufacturer, (c) date of dispatch from the UK and delivery in Iraq, (d) condition, (e) status in relation to arms export controls and (f) country of origin; what UK companies were involved in procurement or transhipment; whether each weapon carried a serial number; and whether he has received any reports of the diversion of these weapons for illicit purposes. (63815)

[holding answer 18 April 2006]: The Iraqi Security Forces were equipped with 5,666 x 9mm pistols and ammunition at a total cost of £1,292,878 as part of the Project OSIRIS security sector reform project, initiated by the Prime Minister in 2004.

Of these weapons, 2,822 pistols were model 92Fs manufactured by Beretta S.P.A., of Italy. They were procured by the Defence Procurement Agency’s Dismounted Close Combat Integrated Project Team. The shipment was received at Heathrow, from Italy, on 24 February 2005. They were then moved to the Ministry of Defence Base Ordnance Depot in Donnington, Shropshire, for inspection before being despatched to Basra, where they arrived on 27 February 2005.

The remaining 2,844 pistols were manufactured by a company whose identity is being withheld. They were imported by a second, separate company—whose name is similarly being withheld—on 18 February 2005, and despatched to Iraq on 23 February 2005. Provision of further detail would be regarded by those concerned as a breach of confidence.

The weapons supplied in both shipments were new, not refurbished. Since it is illegal for an arms manufacturer to produce weapons without details stamped or etched upon them, all the pistols complied fully with international standards, bearing recorded serial numbers.

Each shipment was considered under the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria. The weapons were legally gifted to the Government of Iraq. Parliament approved the gifting in principle on 15 December 2004.

As I have sought to make clear in earlier answers on the subject, we have received no evidence of any of these weapons being diverted for illicit purposes.