Arms trade Report Netherlands April 1998 – February 1999

By: Martin Broek

We have been more effective against Dutch arms trade as in many years before, including press coverage, contact with political parties and reaching people in the peace and adjacent movements.

At the same time we are confronted with to few people working at the office. For the positive developments there are two main reasons:

covering all Dutch arms trade and arms control issues, instead of having our main focus on Indonesia; and the publication of a book on Dutch arms trade in the nineties, covering export policies, the defence industry, arms trade by region and the compilation of facts and figures.

Till June 1998 we were working also a lot on international activities. Most of all with involving French groups in the EuroSatory Campaign. We visited meetings in Lyon, Paris and Lille. We are very happy with the result of the EuroSatory campaign. First of all because, while France is one of the biggest and most unscrupulous arms exporters of Western Europe there is almost no opposition in the country and at least we were able to bring French people together.

Arms trade policies of the Dutch government Arms export policies of the Dutch government are changing very quickly due to grown attention on the subject in the international fora, lobby by a wide range of NGO. s and media exposure of arms deals. The most important changes occurred on transparency and the Dutch code of conduct .

a. Transparency

There is some transparency now in the Netherlands regarding arms trade. The Dutch government is publishing two list every six months (one in spring and one in autumn) on types of arms and total amounts of money exported. (when above Hfl. 100.000) . The spring publication is public (in Dutch and English) and includes a report on Dutch arms trade policy.

Overview Dutch arms exports Jan-Jun 1998 in millions of Hfl (when above 1 million Hfl)

U.S. 125.8   Saudi Arabia 4.8
Chilli 124.0   Sweden 4.8
Turkey 81.4   UAE 4.6
Israel 71.7   Norway 4.4
Germany 70.9   Qatar 3.5
Taiwan 23.0   Italy 3.2
U.K. 15.3   Thailand 2.8
Denmark 13.0   India 1.8
Indonesia 9.6   Canada 1.6
Greece 8.4   Austria 1.4
France 8.3   Venezuela 1.4
Colombia 7.1   Singapore 1.3
Swiss 7.1   China 1.2
Korea, South 6.9      

b. Dutch and EU Code of conduct

In the European Code of Conduct it is clearly stated, that governments who want to stick to more severe national export codes may do so. The policy of the Dutch government is to use the European and Dutch code and have the last more restrictive on the following subjects:
Undercut deliverance. s. When an export license is refused by one EU member and an other member wants to export the same kind of strategic material this state has to inform the state which refuses the license earlier. The Dutch government wants to expand this. The undercut seller has to inform all members of the EU.
Transparency. The Dutch government is aiming for a public annual report of all EU member states comparable to the Swedish report. UN-register on conventional arms. The Dutch government will try to have a new criteria on the UN-register added to the European Code of Conduct with as many EU-countries as possible. When a country is not reporting to the UN-register on Conventional arms European Union countries should refrain from exporting to those countries. The Dutch government will lobby in the European Union till September 1999 for this criteria and in any case add it to the national guidelines at this time.
OESO DAC list. For the export of surplus arms the Dutch military attaches are provided with glossy magazines to attract interest from the countries in the region they are based. Last December it was decided not to use those magazines in countries which are on the last three categories of the OECD DAC list. This means about 120 countries are not provided with information on Dutch surplus arms for sale. The effect of this must not be overstated, an estimated 15% of Dutch surplus arms went to countries on the DAC list in the nineties, the rest mainly to countries in the Middle East and members of NATO. But it means after seven years – since there is a criteria regarding development and arms trade – there is a concrete filling of the fourth Dutch (comparable with eight of the EU) criteria. It is minimal, because there is no reason to limit the application to advertising surplus arms and not to include the sale of surplus arms and new arms of the Dutch defence industry. Regions of tension. The position of the Dutch government on exports to regions of tension was already clear from the facts. The UAE, South Korea, India, Egypt, Taiwan, Qatar and Turkey are among the ten most important customers for Dutch arms. While the former Minister of Foreign Affairs was behaving like a contortionist when he was confronted with the fact that exports took place to regions of tension, the new administration is openly stating they can not work with the region of tension criteria.

c. The Dutch government
is a major ally on the issue of improving export regulations on an international level, but at the same time looking at its national export record it is necessary to follow its policy very closely and go on criticising exports of arms to regions of tension and to expose arms sales which can be used for human rights violations.

Small arms

Small arms are becoming increasingly important for AMOK, especially on the level of research requests by people from the peace-, development- and human rights organisations. We assume these questions will grow in the near future. For this goal we did do investigation in the subject and found out there are six possible sources for small arms in the Netherlands: 1) optronic devices for small arms, 2) a small range of small calibre (< 12.6 mm) ammunition, provided by two companies, 3) overhaul for foreign customers in facilities of the Dutch armed forces, 4) the small arms selling shops (who are according to police sources for illegal bought arms), 5) theft from various sources (mainly the army) and most importantly arms trafficking by national air- and sea harbours (the Dutch KLM alone exported 1.000 freights of arms in 1997). There is no production of small arms in the Netherlands itself.

The sale of surplus riffles, pistols and machine-guns looks like to have stopped after the Dutch government took up the issue of small arms exports in 1996. We exposed the sale of riffles to UAE, and even as the deal was in a far reaching stage it was stopped after it became known to the public. The sale of surplus arms can not be fully ruled out, when close allies want to buy them – but they are not likely to buy old fashioned types – or in case it is in the interest of the Dutch Foreign policy considerations (An example of this is the covert export of small arms in 1993 to Surinam, former Dutch Guyana.) Beside the level of exports, the issue of small arms is also taken up by the Dutch police forces who have established branches covering the illegal possession of small arms on a national level. Except for illegal trafficking, small arms are not important on a Dutch national level.

Surplus arms for sale

Last January the Dutch Minister of Defence published a headlines note for the restructuring of the Dutch armed forces. This has consequences for the list of Dutch surplus arms for sale. The Dutch government expects Hfl 600 million in return for this part of surplus arms. During the nineties the sale of surplus arms was a major part of Dutch arms sales, worth roughly Hfl. 2 billion. Members of Parliament are confidentially informed about those deals, since 1996.

  B List on sale by Dutch government
  No. Type Period Cost Source
  5 Mine sweepers Dokkum-class 1999- N.y.k. MPO 99
  2 frigates N.y.k. Hoofdlijnennotitie (HN)
  75 + 75 M-113 Armoured vehicles 1999 – + 2002 – + fl. 100.000 each MPO 99
  150 Leopard tanks + fl. 100.000 each HN
  150 YPR armoured personnel carrier N.y.k HN
  24 Anti-Air armoured vehicle (PRTL) 2000 – N.y.k. MPO 99
  400 Vehicles N.y.k HN
  20 M-114/23 155 mm Howitzer 1999 – N.y.k. MPO 99
  27 M-114/39 155 mm Howitzer 1999 N.y.k. MPO 99
  14 FH-70 Howitzer 1999 – N.y.k. MPO 99
  144 Mortar 81 mm 1999 – N.y.k. MPO 99
  12 Recoilless gun (TLV) 106 mm and ammunition 1999 – N.y.k. MPO 99
  436 Recoilless gun (TLV) 84 mm and ammunition 1999 – N.y.k. MPO 99
  21.966 Browning 9 mm 1999 – + fl. 75 each MPO 99
  11.582 Carbine M 1 (.30 inch) 1999 – + fl. 100 each. MPO 99
  3.119 Rifle Garand M 1 1999 – + fl. 100 each MPO 99
  26.475 + 423 Rifle FAL 1999 + 2000 – + fl. 250 each MPO 99
  623 Machine gun BREN 1999 – + fl. 100 each MPO 99
    Uzi 1999 – + fl. 200 each MPO 99 *
    hand grenades 1999 – Not MPO 99 *
    Landrover 1999 – fl.5000 each MPO 99 *
  1071 Trucks YA 4440 1999 – fl.12.500 each MPO 99
  9 Allouette helicopters 1999 – fl. 250.000 MPO 99
  3 Allouette helicopters 1999- HN
  3 PC3 Orions patrol aircraft N.y.k HN
  11 F-27 Troopship/Friendship 1999 fl. 500.000 each MPO 99*
  2 Fokker 27-M transport aircraft N.y.k HN
  29 F-16 fighter aircraft 1999 N.y.k. MPO 99 *
  18 F-16 fighter aircraft N.y.k. HN
    AIM-9N3 air-to-air guided   MPO 99 *
  8 Hawk air defence system 1999 N.y.k MPO 99 *
  * Estimated on MPO 98

We are aiming for a public report of the sale of surplus arms for several reasons:

the argument of protecting interests of the industry are not at stake;
it is a major part of Dutch arms trade seen in financial value and it is by far the major part of exports of complete weapon systems; and because the government has a strange mixture of interests regarding the sale of surplus arms, it has to control arms exports and at the same time it has an interest as seller on the market.

Major deals and issues of attention in the past year

Chile: The Dutch company Rotterdamse Droogdok Maatschappy overhauled 155 mm artillery of the Chilean army and the Dutch government sold 200 Leopard tanks to the Chilean arms manufacturing, overhaul and import organisation FAMAE. We involved the solidarity movement and Chilean exiles in protests to the Dutch government. Pinochet is supervisionary director of FAMAE. India: After the nuclear test of India and Pakistan the Dutch government installed an arms embargo on both countries. With a one year exception for on-going deals. Seen that India is a major customer on the Dutch market it was an important step. Not surprisingly already in November the Dutch government proposed to lift the embargo. This proposal was confronted with heavily protest of the Parliament and the result was to keep sanctions in power, except for ongoing license production, joint-ventures and ongoing deals, covering the most important relations on defence-production between India and the Netherlands.
China: Arms deals to China are under scrutiny of members of the Dutch Parliament, because there is still an embargo against the Peoples Republic. The Christian Democrats (CDA) and GreenLeft want to stop Dutch arms trade to China. The reaction of the Dutch government is other EU-members are also exporting, the embargo is unclear and Dutch trade is on unimportant parts of optronic devices.

Defence industry

The consolidation of the Dutch defence-industry is taking place at a national level. Hollandse Signaal Apparaten is still the major arms producing facility in the Netherlands, but two other companies are of growing importance: STORK and the RDM. STORK took over the lion share of military branches of Fokker and the RDM has bought in the recent past the construction and R & D company Nevesbu and DAF Special Products (military trucks and armoured vehicles) and wants to buy the Royal Schelde producing all major naval vessels in the Netherlands.
Government funds are given to De Schelde (Hfl 50 million) to keep the company afloat and Hfl. 150 million as an donation of the Dutch government to the defence-industry to help to get the last in an initial stage involved in the development of the Joint Strike Fighter.

Future activities

We will have a difficult task to keep arms trade on the agenda. The character of Dutch arms trade is mainly on the level of high tech equipment, which is not the kind of arms the public opinion has in mind when speaking about arms trade and the Dutch government is doing a very good public relations job, stating they are very restrictive on exports. International week of action against the arms trade. We are looking forward to see a positive decision on it by ENAAT and are planning to do an action to place Dutch arms trade in the spotlight. Conference on Dutch arms export to region of tension. Seen the practice of Dutch arms export this is one of the major issues we have to tackle and a conference is the best opportunity. Providing information for demonstrations of the peace movement opposing two arms fairs in the Netherlands: the International Training and Education Exhibition (ITEC) in April (Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, British Aerospace, MAK, STN Atlas, Celsius etc. will attend) and the gathering of the umbrella organisation of the Dutch defence-industry in November or October.