BERN, Switzerland: During today’s sitting, the Federal Council made three decisions regarding the export of military equipment to Iraq, India, Pakistan and South Korea. It authorized the relevant department of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) to approve certain export applications already submitted, and to give a positive initial response to other, preliminary applications.
1. Regarding Iraq, 180 M-113 armored personnel carriers worth about 12 million Swiss francs must first be exported to the United Arab Emirates, which will in turn donate them to the Iraqi government.
Iraq constantly suffers terrorist attacks on its police and military installations, and on civilian targets. It is in Switzerland’s interests that the situation in Iraq be stabilized as quickly as possible. That will however not be possible unless Iraq’s new security forces are equipped with appropriate defensive means.
The M-113s, which are currently surplus to Swiss requirements and are in good condition, can be useful.
The U.N. Security Council has requested member countries, by Resolution n° 1546 on June 8, 2004, to assist the Iraqi government to establish effective police, border surveillance and installation protection forces to maintain public order and security, which includes anti-terrorism activities. By the same resolution, it also specifically authorized the provision of armaments to the Iraqi government. Neither Switzerland nor the UAE are thus contravening international embargo measures by exporting these vehicles.
2. Following nuclear tests by India and Pakistan in June 1998, the Federal Council had decided that it would no longer approve any request to export military equipment to those two countries. It has today re-enacted normal procedures governing the export of military equipment.
The Federal Council today authorized SECO, which processes export authorisations for military equipment, to affect the following acts:
-Regarding India, it may respond positively to a preliminary request to grant a production licence for the manufacture of 35mm anti-aircraft guns, and to supply components, for a value of 300 million Swiss francs over five years.
-Regarding Pakistan, it may approve a request by- a broker to negotiate the sale to Pakistan of 736 M-113 armored personnel carriers (with spare parts). The sale price, which is to be negotiated, should amount to about 40 million Swiss francs.
These vehicles would be used exclusively for United Nations interventions in countries such as Sierra Leone, Liberia, Congo, Burundi and later Sudan. In crisis areas, protective missions by UN troops play a particularly important role. Deployed Pakistani troops have not previously been able to satisfactorily prosecute such missions because of their lack of suitable equipment. The quality of their intervention in these countries will be significantly improved by Swiss Army surplus M-113s.
3. Regarding South Korea, the issue is the temporary import and re-export, for maintenance work, of 50 to 100 warheads for Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, for a maximum value of 2.5 million Swiss francs.
The Federal Council bases its positive decision on the fact that this country does not threaten international security, not regional stability, that it has a constructive attitude towards the international community and that several European countries already supply it with military equipment. (…/…)
Finally, one of the major arguments in favour of this approval is that this order provides the company involved the opportunity to use and develop its vast know-how in the maintenance of Sidewinder missiles, which are also operated by the Swiss armed forces. As such, it conforms to the goal set out in Article 1 of the law governing military exports: ensuring that Switzerland maintains an industrial capability suited to its defense needs.