Despite having a standard policy of not issuing export licenses, and not sending weapons to countries that could possibly use them for human rights violation; the UK government has reportedly breached its arms sales agreement by issuing export licenses to several countries that are considered as rights violators.
The UK government has apparently issued these licenses for the sales of military equipment in these countries, and has so far, issued a total of £12 billion worth of licenses to countries like China, Syria and Iran
Reports published by certain parliamentary committees have revealed that over 3000 licenses for military equipment and other arms have been issued to countries that are featured in the list of ’27 countries of human rights concerns’ (countries belonging to this list include Afghanistan, Belarus, China, Cuba, Colombia, Eritrea, Myanmar, Iran, Iraq, Palestine, Israel, Republic of Congo, Libya, North Korea, Russia, Pakistan, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, South Sudan, Sudan, Vietnam, Turkmenistan, Yemen, Uzbekistan and Zimbabwe) managed by the Foreign Office. And this
Most of the countries to which these licenses have been issued to include Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Russia, Zimbabwe, Belarus, China, Israel, Iran, Syria and Palestine. China was issued the largest numbers of licenses amounting to £1.4 billion (for a total of 1163 licenses). Saudi Arabia came second with licenses amounting to £1.8 billion (for a total of 417 licenses), with Palestine and Israel being issued licenses worth £7.8 billion (for a total for 381 licenses).
Even countries like Iran which has gained international notoriety for its nuclear program, has been issued licenses worth £803 million (for a total of 62 licenses). And Syria which has been the epicenter of a civil war that ravaged the nation for years and killed almost 100,000 innocent civilians, has been issued licenses worth £143,000 (for a total of 3 licenses). The only two countries that were left out of this list by the UK government were South Sudan and North Korea. Moreover, countries like Argentina, Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain and Madagascar, which were recently added to the list, were issued licenses by the UK government irrespective of their political and social issues.
The UK government has maintained that most of the licenses that were issued to these countries were for dual military purposes and civilian use rather than for internal repression. However, the parliamentary committees that objected to this action remain apprehensive about it, mainly due to the large numbers of licenses involved. And more of these groups have called for the British government to be more transparent in the type of equipment and arms it exports to these countries.