BEIRUT

Middle East

Swiss tighten rules after grenades found in Syria

A Syrian rebel fighter holds up his gun in the city of Aleppo on October 7, 2012. (AFP PHOTO/TAUSEEF MUSTAFA)

ZURICH: Switzerland is toughening up rules to prevent weapons sold to one country being re-exported to areas of conflict after Swiss-made grenades turned up in Syria.

The move comes after an investigation found that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) had given Jordan grenades sold by Switzerland in 2003 and 2004 which later were channeled to Syria, where a revolt against President Bashar al-Assad erupted 18 months ago.

The government approved on Wednesday a change to its war materiel export ordinance: foreign buyers of Swiss-made weapons will have to declare in writing they will not export, sell, give or lend the arms without the agreement of Swiss authorities.

The declaration, which must be signed by a top foreign official, allows Switzerland to conduct on-site inspections after the weapons have been shipped. The change takes effect on Nov. 1.

That finding prompted the Swiss government on Sept. 21 to require the UAE to guarantee that no weapons imported from Switzerland would re-exported.

The change now applies to other countries as well.

A general prohibition on re-exportation was codified in Swiss law in 2006. The change to the ordinance is intended to ensure purchase agreements comply with the law, a spokeswoman for the Swiss State Secretariat for Economics (SECO) said.

 

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