Spain halts major missile sale to Saudi Arabia over Yemen fears

People walk on the rubble of a building destroyed by air attacks in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa.

Spain put the brakes on a sale of hundreds of missiles to Saudi Arabia amid concerns about their use against civilians in the war in Yemen. The defence ministry has launched a process to cancel the contract between Spain and Saudi Arabia signed in 2015 for 400 laser-guided munitions and will pay back the $10 million already paid for the weapons, broadcaster Cadena Ser reported.

The broadcaster said the bombs would have been used in Yemen, where UN human rights experts have said air strikes by the Saudi-led coalition have caused heavy civilian casualties and some may amount to war crimes.

“We confirm the news,” a Defence Ministry spokeswoman said, declining to give any further details. There was no immediate response from Saudi authorities. The ministry said last month it had never sold arms that could be used against a civilian population, condemned the killing of non-combatants in Yemen, and said it would review any possible sales that had not yet been closed and could be involved in attacks on civilians.

Cadena Ser said the Socialist administration of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who took over in Madrid in June after toppling his conservative predecessor, would pay back €9.2 million already paid for the material. In April, Spain signed a framework agreement to sell warships to Saudi Arabia in a deal estimated to be worth around €1.8 billion.

Human rights groups have denounced Western arms sales to Saudi Arabia and its allies in a war the United Nations says has killed more than 10,000 people and left 8.4 million on the brink of famine.

Spain is the fourth-largest provider of military equipment and weapons to the Gulf state, according to Amnesty International.The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, an independent global security database, said the United States, Britain and France are Saudi Arabia's main arms suppliers.

Similar articles

  • A Spanish judge tries to block new Covid-19 lockdown in Catalonia

    A Spanish judge tries to block new Covid-19 lockdown in Catalonia

    A Spanish judge ruled on Monday that the decision of the Catalan authorities to impose home confinement for about 160,000 people to stem a surge in coronavirus cases goes far beyond a simple limitation of movement and seriously affects constitutionally recognised rights, news wires reported. Catalan leader Quim Torra, who is president of the Catalan regional government, said he could simply not accept such a ruling.

  • Local ruling parties win regional elections in Spain

    Local ruling parties win regional elections in Spain

    The governing parties of Spain's Basque Country and Galicia regions won regional elections on Sunday. The Galician premier Albert Nunez Feijoo, of the conservative Popular Party (PP), secured his fourth absolute majority with a crushing victory over the left, a result that no other regional leader from his party could come close to, El Pais reported. In the Basque Country, meanwhile, the incumbent, Inigo Urukullo, took his Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) to its best result since 1984, with around 40% of the vote.

  • Duda wins presidential vote, Poland's electoral commission says

    Duda wins presidential vote, Poland's electoral commission says

    His re-election is of great importance to the ruling conservative party

    Andrzej Duda has narrowly won Poland's presidential election, the electoral commission PKW confirmed on Monday. Duda secured 51.2%t of the vote in the run-off election, the commission said citing results from 99.8% of constituencies. Duda's rival, liberal Warsaw mayor Rafal Trzaskowski, won 48.8% of the vote. Voter turnout was unusually high at 68.12 %, the commission said.