Denmark Suspends Weapons Deals With Saudi Arabia as Arms Boycott Movement Gains Steam

The decision was taken after recent discussions with other foreign ministers in the European Union

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends during the 29th Arab Summit in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia April 15, 2018.
\ HANDOUT/ REUTERS

Denmark has decided to suspend approvals of weapon and military equipment exports to Saudi Arabia over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the situation in Yemen, its foreign minister said on Thursday.

Read more: CIA Has Recording of Saudi Crown Prince Ordering Khashoggi Silenced, Turkish Media Reports

The decision was taken after recent discussions with other foreign ministers in the European Union, he added.

Germany has already suspended issuing future weapons export licences and has moved to halt all arms sales, while France said on Monday said it will decide soon on sanctions over Khashoggi's killing at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last month. Germany has urged all its EU partners to end arms trade with Saudi Arabia until the Khashoggi killing and Yemen conflict have been resolved.

"We agreed that when we have more clarity... we will try to find a unified European solution or reaction from all member states of the European Union," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in late October, referring to the sale of arms to the kingdom.

She was speaking at a joint news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron as well as Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan at the conclusion of a four-way summit on Syria.

>>Saudi Arabia and U.S. on collision course as Mohammed bin Salman's standing ebbs ■ Why the Khashoggi murder is a disaster for Israel

The suspension also includes some dual-use technologies, a reference to materials that might have military applications. 

Denmark issued ten such approvals last year, according to the ministry. Already given approvals will not be suspended, a spokesman said.

Defence industry experts said the main impact of Germany halting exports would be on the sale of patrol boats built by privately-held Luerrsen, jeopardising 300 jobs at a shipyard in the northeastern state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, and four Cobra counter-battery radar systems to be built by a consortium that includes France's Thales, Airbus and Lockheed Martin of the United States.

Saudi Arabia is one of the world's biggest weapons importers. It heads a military coalition fighting in a civil war in Yemen in which tens of thousands of people have died and caused a major humanitarian catastrophe.

Meanwhile, U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday praised Saudi Arabia for helping to lower oil prices but pressure intensified for the United States to impose tougher sanctions on its Middle East ally over Khashoggi's murder.