The Australian government has recently approved a multi-million dollars fund to a Canberra defence company, which exports avant-grade weapons system to Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom has been facing a strong international outcry for carrying out deadly war crimes in Yemen, along with the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The federal government has provided over $36 million as financial aid for secret arms deal, and Defence Minister Christopher Pyne has been lobbying the Saudi Government for years, representing the Australian defence companies, including Electro Optic Systems (EOS).
Last year, EOS chief executive Ben Greene in a statement said, “Christopher Pyne MP has visited foreign capitals with me to provide assurance of Australia as a reliable defence partner and supplier to its allies.”
EOS’ Remote Weapons System (RWS) holds military cannons, machine guns and missile launchers. It can also be mounted on military vehicles or naval vessels. Troopers inside the vehicles can access them remotely, which ensures their safety.
According to ABC News, a company document proves that Australia is rendering assistance to a local company to sell weapons systems that will ultimately reach Saudi Arabia.
Both the nations are cutting secret arms deal amid an international boycott of weaponry supply to Saudi by Australia’s key military allies, such as, the US and the UK.
Under the flagship of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia is indiscriminately conducting air-strikes and military offensives in Yemen, killing thousands of civilians.
Elaine Pearson, the Australian director of Human Rights Watch, asserted that the government needs to ensure transparency regarding weaponry sales to the Kingdom.
Confidential document unveiling the secret arms deal
The ABC has claimed watching the secret EOS board minutes, wherein a Letter of Intent (LOI) was signed for closing the deal of supplying 500 remote weapons systems units to the Saudi Ministry of Interior.
During the meeting, the company consented to provide the RWS in portions of 20 units each year, which will be used by Saudi Arabia.
EOS has commercial tie ups with US arms manufacturer Orbital ATK, through which the RWS is channeled to Saudi Arabia.
Australia’s plan to promote global arms deal
Australia is aggressively cutting secret arms deal with Saudi and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to support the former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s Defence Export Strategy to significantly boost defence sales over the coming years.
According to the plan, Australia will allot $200 million as the arms manufacturing budget between now and 2028. By achieving the target, it will become the 10th-largest arms exporter in the world. Australia, at present, is ranked 20th. Turnbull’s strategy also states that the Gulf is a “priority market” for defence exports.