Spain said to nix bomb sale to Saudi Arabia over Yemen concerns
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Spain said to nix bomb sale to Saudi Arabia over Yemen concerns

New center-left administration plans to give back $10.6 million it received as payment for 400 laser-guided munitions, Cadena SER radio says

The wreckage of a bus remains at the site of a deadly Saudi-led coalition airstrike, in Saada, Yemen, August 12, 2018. (Hani Mohammed/AP)
The wreckage of a bus remains at the site of a deadly Saudi-led coalition airstrike, in Saada, Yemen, August 12, 2018. (Hani Mohammed/AP)

MADRID — Spain said it has canceled the sale of 400 laser-guided bombs to Saudi Arabia amid fears that the weapons could be used in the Riyadh-led coalition fighting the Iran-aligned Houthi rebels in Yemen.

The deal was originally signed in 2015 under Spain’s former conservative government, but the new center-left administration plans to return the 9.2 million euros ($10.6 million) already paid by the Saudis, Cadena SER radio reported on Tuesday.

A Defense Ministry spokeswoman who was not authorized to be identified by media confirmed the report, but declined to elaborate.

Rights groups have criticized the coalition’s airstrikes and other attacks in Yemen for killing civilians, including children.

UN human rights experts say all sides may have committed war crimes.

Yemenis check the damage in the aftermath of a reported air strike by the Saudi-led coalition in the Yemeni capital Sanaa on March 8, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / Mohammed HUWAIS)

The Saudi embassy in Madrid did not immediately respond to e-mailed questions.

Last month a Saudi airstrike killed 51 people on a bus, including 40 children, in rebel-held northern Yemen.

In August, ahead of a conference to review the Arms Trade Treaty, Amnesty International called on countries to stop supplying weapons to Saudi Arabia and Israel due to concerns they would used against civilians.

“The Arms Trade Treaty states clearly that arms exports are prohibited if there is a real risk of them contributing to human rights violations,” said Patrick Wilcken, Amnesty International’s Researcher on Arms Control and Human Rights. “States who continue to supply arms to Saudi Arabia and Israel are therefore brazenly flouting the rules.”

In a statement at the time, Amnesty said the ATT “prohibits the transfer between states of weapons, munitions and related items when it is known that they would be used for war crimes, or there is an overriding risk they could contribute to serious human rights violations.”

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