Defense Contractor Agrees to Multi-Million Dollar Fine

RaytheonThe defense giant and weapons manufacture Raytheon has reached an agreement with the State Department to pay millions in fines for violating US arms export control laws. Reuters reports that the $8 million fine will resolves hundreds of violations that the State Department characterized as “numerous violations demonstrated a recurring, corporate-wide weakness” in maintaining effective compliance controls:

Under the terms of the agreement, Raytheon neither admitted nor denied the allegations. However, the company voluntarily reported many — if not most — of the alleged violations to the government.

Half of the fine will be suspended on the condition that Raytheon will use the money for government-approved remedial compliance measures, including increased training and oversight. The company also agreed to hire an independent special compliance official to oversee the four-year consent decree.

Raytheon, which prides itself on generating more revenues overseas than its rivals, expects international sales to account for 27 percent to 29 percent of its total revenue in 2013.

The company said in a statement it would continue to work closely with the State Department “to achieve its goal of full compliance and industry-leading practices.”

The department said it would not debar Raytheon from further exports since the company voluntarily disclosed nearly all the violations covered by the settlement over the past decade.

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US to Finalize Middle East Weapons Deal

A $10 billion arms deal is under discussion between the United States and its Arab and Israeli allies that will send a “very clear signal” to Iran, Chuck Hagel, the US defense secretary, has said.

Hagel, who is on his first visit to Israel as Pentagon chief, said on Sunday the US is committed to providing Israel’s military with an advantage.

“The bottom line is that Iran is a threat, a real threat,” Hagel said. “The Iranians must be prevented from developing that capacity to build a nuclear weapon and deliver it.”

The first stop on Hagel’s week-long Middle East trip came two days after the Pentagon said it was finalizing a weapons deal to strengthen the militaries of Israel and two of Iran’s key rivals, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Al Jazeera’s correspondent Simon McGregor-Wood, reporting from Jerusalem, said Hagel’s visit was an opportunity to put controversies of the past behind, such as his earlier comments on Israel which affected his confirmation.

Clear Signal

The deal includes the sale of KC-135 aerial refueling tankers, anti-air defense missiles and tilt-rotor V-22 Osprey troop transport planes to Israel as well as the sale of 25 F-16 Fighting Falcon jets to the UAE.

The UAE and Saudi Arabia also would be allowed to purchase weapons with so-called “standoff” capabilities that enable them to engage the enemy with precision at a distance.

Asked if the arms deal sent a message that the military option was on the table if Tehran moved to build a nuclear weapon, Hagel said: “I don’t think there’s any question that that’s another very clear signal to Iran.”

Iran denies Western allegations that it is seeking to develop the capability to build nuclear weapons, saying its atomic activities are aimed at generating electricity.

Israel has repeatedly voiced its impatience with the pace of diplomatic efforts to curb Iran’s enrichment of uranium, saying they should be coupled with a credible military threat.

Hagel, who faced resistance during his Senate confirmation hearing earlier this year from lawmakers who questioned his support for Israel, said part of the purpose of his visit was to underscore to Israelis that “the United States is committed to their security”.

Asked about renewed debate in the Israeli media that Israel might have to strike Iran by itself, Hagel said “every sovereign nation has the right to defend itself and protect itself”.

“Iran presents a threat in its nuclear programme and Israel will make the decisions that Israel must make to protect itself and defend itself,” he said.

But Hagel added the US and other countries believe there is still time for diplomacy and tough international sanctions to have an impact.

After Israel, Hagel will visit Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

UN Approves Global Arms Trade Treaty

BulletsAfter years of negotiations and an intense lobbying effort by weapons manufacturers and their allies, the United Nations approved the world’s most sweeping global arms trade treaty. By a the 154 to 3 vote the General Assembly approved the Arms Trade Treaty, with 23 abstentions from countries with problematic human rights records including Bahrain, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. Activists see it as a human rights victory that will prevent future violence and genocides:

Although implementation is years away and there is no specific enforcement mechanism, proponents say the treaty would for the first time force sellers to consider how their customers will use the weapons and to make that information public. The goal is to curb the sale of weapons that kill tens of thousands of people every year — by, for example, making it harder for Russia to argue that its arms deals with Syria are legal under international law.

The treaty, which took seven years to negotiate, reflects growing international sentiment that the multibillion-dollar weapons trade needs to be held to a moral standard. The hope is that even nations reluctant to ratify the treaty will feel public pressure to abide by its provisions. The treaty calls for sales to be evaluated on whether the weapons will be used to break humanitarian law, foment genocide or war crimes, abet terrorism or organized crime or slaughter women and children.

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IDEX: The Middle East Arms Bizarre

8486111836_2245f57841_zDespite the fact that global arms sales are down, the International Defence Exhibition & Conference, or IDEX, is underway in the United Arab Emirates. The biennial arms and defence technology sales exhibition is where the world’s defense industry shows off their wares. This year in addition to the tanks, planes, and aircraft the big attraction is of course unmanned systems, otherwise known as drones.

In years past countries from throughout region have used the occasion to spent millions on defense equipment. In 2005, the UAE inked deals worth $358 million; signing contracts with German firms Rohde and Schwarz Gmbh for a $144 million upgrade to their army’s communications systems. Other countries completed multimillion dollar sales including Jordan and Kuwait. In 2007, Saudi Arabia ordered $50 billion in military hardware, including fighter aircraft, cruise missiles, attack helicopters and tanks.

This year, the UAE has reportedly made 17 different deals valued at $1.4 billion. The deals included a contract with the American Oshkosh Corporation to provide 750 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected All-Terrain Vehicles (M-ATVs). Other contracts included one with the Russian KBP to buy ammunition, and another with Tawazun to purchase laser guided missile. The most noteworthy is the $197 million contract to a UAE company to buy an export version of the General Atomics Predator drone.

Photo: Greek Leopard Tank at IDEX 2013 Abu Dhabi by By Danny McL