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Burma: Arms Trade

Volume 505: debated on Wednesday 10 February 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether his Department has had discussions with the government of (a) Canada, (b) New Zealand and (c) Brazil on an arms embargo against Burma. (316244)

The Government maintains a dialogue with a wide range of international partners on Burma, including the governments of Canada and New Zealand. In recent weeks we have also shared details of our position on Burma with Brazil, which became a non-permanent member of the Security Council in January.

In August 2009, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister wrote to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and his fellow UN Security Council members underlining that no one should be selling arms to a military regime with an appalling human rights record. A global arms embargo remains a priority for this Government, and we will continue to press for progress in our bilateral contacts and in relevant multi-lateral fora.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received of arms trading with Burma, with particular reference to arms from (a) India, (b) Russia and (c) China; and what assessment he has made of the effects of such trade on the situation in Burma. (316582)

The Government believe that no one should be selling arms to the Burmese regime in view of their appalling human rights record and the high likelihood arms supplied will be use for internal repression. An EU arms embargo has been in place since 1996, and we are working to build support for a global arms embargo. To this end, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister wrote to the UN Secretary General and all members of the Security Council in August 2009.

Reports suggest that India, China and Russia have all supplied arms to Burma. China is believed to be the leading arms supplier and in early January 2010, media reports suggested Russia had agreed to supply $600 million of combat aircraft and arms to the Burma regime. In response to these reports, our embassy in Moscow raised our concerns with the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The ability of Burma to continue to purchase arms from a wide range of suppliers has helped to reduce their defence and security costs and modernise an army responsible for widespread and systematic human rights abuses.