Jeremy Corbyn: ‘Even the US has suspended some military supplies to Saudi Arabia. Why can’t we do the same?’ [Image: Jonathan Brady/PA].

We know a little more now than when This Writer first asked whether the Tories were war criminals because of this controversy.

The cluster bombs were sold in the 1980s, we are told; but why did the UK not make any attempt to get them back after signing the Ottawa Convention?

The convention bans signatories from assisting, encouraging or inducing anybody – at all – to use cluster bombs. I know it is too much to expect in practice, but the question is there to be asked: Why didn’t we get those bombs back?

The Conservative Government clearly has a guilty collective conscience, as the denials and delays between being asked about the issue and revealing the facts show clearly.

The Tories only made any admission at all after a document on the subject was leaked to the mass media.

Now, Mr Corbyn is right: The Tories must explain why they did not admit that UK-made cluster bombs were available to Saudi forces and were being used in Yemen.

And they must explain why they think selling even more armaments to Saudi Arabia is justified, in the light of what that country has done with what the Tories have already sold.

Now – not in seven months’ time.

Theresa May must explain why it took so long for the government to establish that British-made cluster bombs banned by an international treaty were dropped by Saudi Arabia in Yemen, Jeremy Corbyn has said.

The Labour leader said there was “pretty strong evidence” available for months that cluster bombs sold from the UK in the 1980s had been deployed in the current conflict in Yemen, even though that was denied by Saudi Arabia and rejected by government ministers in May.

Michael Fallon, the defence secretary, only admitted on Monday that a limited number of British cluster bombs from the 1980s had been used after an official confirmation from Saudi Arabia. He made a statement to the House of Commons the day after… the existence of a UK government analysis [was revealed] indicating the bombs had been used and which had been available to ministers for about a month.

Corbyn said May and Fallon should both explain why it took so long for the UK to establish the truth. “I raised the issue of arms supplies, as did Emily [Thornberry], and a television programme that indicated pretty strong evidence of cluster bombs was there. So why it’s taken this length of time, I think they do have some questions to answer,” he said.

The Labour leader also called on the government again to reconsider current arms sales to Saudi Arabia in light of the US suspension of some planned military exports. He said: “We have to ask the question about this relationship with Saudi Arabia, their bombing of targets all over Yemen, vast numbers of people being forced into exile and the huge number of deaths there. It is a terrible situation. I have had discussions with UN officials and there has to be a political process to bring about a ceasefire as there does in Syria.

“Even the US has suspended some military supplies to Saudi Arabia. Why can’t we do the same?”

Source: Corbyn says May must come clean over UK-made cluster bombs | World news | The Guardian

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