Explosive Stuff weblog

News and opinions on international arms trade. Subscribe and stay tuned!

Killer drones for Europe

In September the Dutch government finally decided to buy a mere 37 of the initially planned 85 F-35 fighter aircraft to replace its F-16 fleet. As this leaves the Netherlands with very limited air power, it might only be a question of time before the recently selected General Atomic's MQ-9 Reaper will receive an armed payload. So far the four planes and one ground station are intended for... read more >

According to some financial institutions, nuclear weapons are not controversial

The Belgian bank KBC claims to have “the most far-reaching policy on controversial weapons in the world.“ Recently however, the report 'Don't Bank on the Bomb'  by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN ) and IKV Pax Christi showed KBC investments in Serco, a company involved in development and maintenance of nuclear weapon technology.  When... read more >

Algeria, Morocco naval built-up supports EU anti-immigration policies (and the Dutch arms industry)

While Europe itself is beefing up military operations to prevent immigrants from entering the EU by sea, it also supports North African countries to better equip themselves to tackle the issue at their end. Of course it cuts both ways: North Africa's military expansion is a welcome business opportunity too. Algeria is one of the key countries Europe is looking at. According to the EU, it... read more >

Selling border militarization as a humanitarian effort

Just one week after the dramatic events off the coast of Lampedusa, where more than 300 refugees drowned when their boat sank, the European Parliament approved the operating rules for Eurosur, the European border surveillance system. Eurosur provides in the exchange of real time images and data between EU member states and the EU border agency Frontex, gathered through surveillance of the... read more >

More Dutch F-16s for Jordan

Struggling to balance its budget, the Dutch armed forces badly need cash from selling surplus stock weapons. The long list of available equipment includes armoured vehicles, helicopters, fighter aircraft and even the massive “Joint Logistic Support Ship” (JSS), already put for sale prior to delivery. So far sales have not come easily. In 2012 the planned export of 100 Leopard 2 tanks... read more >

Illegal arms trade legalised

The fallout caused by the war in Libya has yet to settle, while the next military intervention is already planned. The Maghreb and Near East are flooded with heavy arms, smuggled out of Libyan arsenals. Syria is an important destination. The BBC cites the UN Security Council's Group of Experts, which monitors the arms embargo imposed on Libya during the 2011 uprising. In April 2013 the... read more >

Egypt, arms smuggling from Libyan stocks

During and after the 2011 civil war in Libya, arms and ammunition has been stolen on a massive scale. It is not terribly difficult to smuggle these weapons into Egypt. Border are extensive and porous and weakly patrolled. “Transfers from Libya of more regular and significant quantities of arms and, at times, fighters have developed towards two geographic areas: Egypt and the Sahel,... read more >

Arms industry support as EU economic policy

“Time has come to take ambitious action” writes the European Commission in its July 24 communication named A new deal for European defence. Towards a more comprehensive and efficient defence and security sector. The Commission wants “to strengthen the defence sector by mobilising all relevant EU policies”. To do this, it has developed a strategy and a 8-step action plan,... read more >

Military industry profits from governments' violations of rights of refugees

Especially since the attacks on the WTC and the Pentagon in September 2011, the security market has become of increasing importance to the military industry. For border security alone, business information provider Visiongain estimates the worth of the global market for 2013 will be over 19.3 billion dollars. Strategic Defence Intelligence, a similar company, stated that border security will be... read more >

Troubles in the Desert; Mauritania as arms exports destination

Mauritania can hardly be called a hot spot for international arms traders. Although its military expenditure - almost 4 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) - is a real burden for the desert country, in absolute figures the 116 (2009) million US dollars is less than e.g. the costs of one Dutch offshore patrol vessel. Much of it has to be used for salaries and buildings. Mauritania is the kid... read more >

The EU’s 28th member and Al Nusrah’s arms

The Brown Moses blog has gained international acclaim for identifying the use of weapons in the two year old Syrian war. One of the more significant findings of the blog are pictures of what appear to be Croatian weapons spotted in the arsenals of Islamic extremist groups operating in Syria, including Jabhat al-Nusrah, notorious for its grave human rights violations. In February, Eliot Higgins... read more >

Pensions and nuclear arms

Six years ago TV programme Zembla revealed how Dutch pension funds invested massive amounts of money in arms companies producing landmines, cluster bombs and nuclear weapons [with English subtitles]. Public indignation forced pension funds to kowtow and promise their members to improve their performance. With some funds, promises got stuck halfway. Many pension funds have since ‘green-... read more >

Germany undercuts blocked Dutch tank deal with Indonesia

Late 2011 it emerged that the Indonesian army was seeking surplus Leopard tanks, which both Germany and the Netherlands had on offer. The Indonesians preferred the Dutch type and came over to see the tanks. But, soon after the potential sale became public, parliamentarians put their weight against such a deal, as they feared possible abuse against Papua’s and Moluccans. Very much to the... read more >

Burmese frigates to be equipped with Dutch tech despite arms embargo

Positive change is underway in Burma/Myanmar since President Thein Sein took office two years ago. The house arrest of opposition leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has been lifted and her National League for Democracy has been giving unprecedented freedoms. The military-led regime has released hundreds of political prisoners and inked a series of cease-fire deals with ethnic... read more >

The value of an arms embargo

The European Union controversy whether or not to lift the embargo on supplying weapons to the Syrian opposition is on the agenda again at the EU foreign ministers meeting 22-23 March in Dublin. The current Syria embargo was amended last month and is due for review in May, but France wants it to be renegotiated now. When all member states agree, the lifting of the embargo “can be a question... read more >

Syria does not need weapons - keep the EU arms embargo

For months the British government has been pushing to amend the European Union arms embargo on Syria, in an effort to increase military support for rebels fighting Syria's Bashir al-Assad government. The proposal to provide weapons to Syrian rebels is back on the agenda. Intense diplomatic pressure has now created a first crack in the embargo, although the details must still be determined.... read more >

US and Venezuela coast guards soon have similar Dutch patrol boats - thanks to Cuba

Damen Shipyards is the superlative of Dutch entrepreneurship. Using all kinds of Dutch export support - from royal visits to export credits - and manoeuvring along political sensitivities, it has expanded a global network of yards, building ships small and big. The Damen family-business sells mega-yachts to the world’s richest as well as anything from tug boats to major warships to... read more >

Chilean ‘frigate gate’ is just a rumour for Dutch MoD

It often takes ages for major corruption cases to evolve from rumours and allegations into investigations, court cases and finally convictions – if they ever get there. Secrecy and political sensitivities are major obstacles to get cases to court. The most infamous of all cases is the 1980s British-Saudi Al Yamamah deal, where a £50 billion oil-for-weapons programme was sweetened with... read more >