x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Swiss 'tentatively' freeze arms exports to UAE, probe Syria link

Switzerland is freezing arms exports to the UAE after a media report said a Swiss-made hand grenade originally shipped to the Emirates in 2003 had been found in Syria.

ZURICH // Switzerland has said it is freezing arms exports to the UAE after a media report said a Swiss-made hand grenade originally shipped to the Emirates back in 2003 had been found in Syria.

The government took the decision after a Swiss newspaper published a picture of a hand grenade produced by Swiss weapons manufacturer RUAG which it said had been taken in the Syrian town of Marea last month even though Switzerland stopped arms exports to Syria in 1998.

The photograph raised concerns about the final destination of Switzerland's arms exports.

The Swiss government said it will make further inquiries because the circumstances in the case remain unclear.

"At present, there is no evidence that Swiss hand grenades have found their way to Syria. Inquiries are ongoing however," it said.

Initial findings suggested the grenade in the media report had been part of a RUAG shipment of 225,162 grenades sent to the UAE in 2003, the Swiss government said.

The Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs is tentatively freezing all pending applications for arms exports to the UAE and is demanding the return of licences which have already been issued but not yet used, a government statement said.

The UAE government has not yet commented.