Monday, September 17, 2018 4:06:05 PM
Spain PM Defends Bomb Sale to Saudi Arabia

Spain's prime minister Pedro Sanchez on Sunday defended his government's controversial decision to go ahead with the delivery of 400 laser-guided bombs to Saudi Arabia, saying it was needed to preserve good ties with the Persian Gulf state.

His Socialist government announced earlier this month that it would halt the sale of a shipment of bombs to Saudi Arabia amid concerns about their use in the conflict in Yemen, but on Thursday Foreign Minister Josep Borrell announced the government had decided to deliver the weapons after all.

Asked about the policy reversal during an interview with private television La Sexta, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said his government risked "creating the image that it was revising its entire relationship" with Saudi Arabia if it did not deliver the weapons.

"The situation was very complicated. The dilemma the government faced was breaking its commercial, economic and political ties with Saudi Arabia, with the impact this could have in some areas of the country, such as the Bay of Cadiz, or carry out a contract signed by the previous government," he added.

Cancellation of the deal would jeopardise a much larger order for five Corvette warships worth 1.8 billion euros, to be built by Spain's Navantia shipyard in the southern region of Andalusia, with thousands of jobs at stake.

Saudi Arabia, a longtime ally, had already paid 9.2 million euros (USD 10.7 million) for the bombs under a 2015 contract signed by a previous, conservative administration in Spain.

Spain is the fourth largest provider of military equipment and weapons to the Persian Gulf state, according to Amnesty International.

Spanish prime minister's excuses raise resentment of Yemeni People that it confirmed the acceptance of killing Yemeni children and women in exchange for commercial interests with Saudi Arabia. Nearly 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen since Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other allies began their aggression in March 2015.


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