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Burma: Arms Trade

Volume 470: debated on Wednesday 23 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what progress has been made on the EU review of the implementation of the arms embargo on Burma following the Prime Minister’s statement on 15 October 2007; (180736)

(2) what progress has been made in discussions with the UK’s international partners on a UN arms embargo on Burma following the Prime Minister’s statement on 15 October 2007.

Following my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister’s statement of 15 October 2007, the UK raised the embargo at the EU Working Group on Conventional Arms Exports. All member states confirmed that they rigorously enforce the embargo, but also agreed to pay particular attention when issuing licences where there was a risk that equipment might be diverted to Burma from third countries. Any such applications would be in breach of criterion 7 of the Consolidated EU and National Export and Licensing Criteria (known as the Code of Conduct), and as such, the licence would be refused.

The UK strictly applies the EU arms embargo on Burma and the Government have investigated all the reports received of alleged breaches. The Government have no evidence that British-made equipment is currently being exported to Burma in breach of the embargo.

The UK works closely with its partners at the UN to press the regime to engage constructively with the Secretary-General’s Good Offices mission. We have made clear that, should the regime fail to make progress towards genuine national reconciliation under UN auspices, we would press for further UN action. An arms embargo on Burma would require a Chapter VII Security Council resolution.