Switzerland Freezes Arms Exports to Lebanon
Switzerland has decided to halt arms exports to Lebanon due to “inability to account for a Swiss shipment of weapons to Lebanon,” Swiss authorities have said on Thursday.
Head of the Swiss Economics Ministry said Switzerland has exported 10 assault rifles and 30 sub-machine guns to Lebanon in 2016, but post-shipment verification in March 2018 was only able to verify nine.
According to news and information platform Swissinfo.ch, Switzerland is still uncertain whether said arms were handed to another recipient. But concerns that the weapons end up in “undesirable hands” justify the freeze, it said.
In remarks made to LBCI, the Swiss Ambassador to Lebanon said her country in 2016 had sold a former Lebanese minister, whom she declined to name, forty pieces of arms.
She said that under the sales contract he signed and approved the right of the Swiss authorities to send a military mission at successive intervals to verify that the sold weapon was not sold or sent to another party.
But a Swiss military delegation that arrived in Lebanon last spring to verify the weapons, found only nine pieces of the 40 pieces sold.
Asked about the possibility of amending the official Swiss position, the ambassador said that the decision is currently covering the sale of arms to Lebanese officials and even to the Lebanese army, and that any change in the Swiss position would be linked first and foremost to the fate of the disappeared weapons.
LBCI said the Lebanese army has clarified in remarks to the station that Lebanon “has never bought any arms nor received military grants from Switzerland.”