Londonderry MP Mark Durkan has accused the Government of presenting the Saudi “wolf in a sheepdog’s clothing” after United Kingdom-manufactured cluster bombs were recovered by Amnesty International researchers in Yemen.
Minister for Defence Procurement, Philip Dunne, said the UK formerly provided BL755 cluster munitions to Saudi Arabia but the last delivery was in 1989.
Mr Dunne said the Saudis denied using UK cluster munitions in the war in Yemen, but vowed that the Government would be seeking fresh assurances in light of Amnesty’s claim a bomb was photographed in Hayran, in the southern Arabian republic.
The Minister said he was “completely confident” no UK citizen has been involved in “targeting, firing or maintaining these illegal weapons while in the service of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”
But Mr Durkan accused Government Ministers of embarking on a “pub crawl of excusery.”
“Once again, we have Ministers prepared to present the Saudi wolf in a sheepdog’s clothing. Today, we have been given a pub crawl of excusery.
“We have been told that the weapons were old or that there was no evidence of any cluster munitions having been used by the Saudi-led coalition.
“Then we were told that there was no evidence they were British manufactured. Then the Minister told us that he was concerned and that he would try to get evidence. Rather than just asking the Saudis what they have done, will the Government contact the Yemen Executive Mine Action Centre, which actually recovered the material we are talking about and has it in a de-mining depot, and look at the same evidence that Amnesty International has examined?”
But Mr Dunne said it was up to the Saudi-led coalition waging war in Yemen to investigate the claims themselves.