The United Kingdom produces 20% of the world’s arms, second only to the United States. 50% of the United Kingdom’s research and development budget funds goes into the arms industry.
Sam Cummings, recruited in 1950 by the Central Intelligence Agency as a weapons expert, was the founder of the International Armament Corporation (Interarmco). Cummings set up Interarmco in 1953, in Alexandria, Virginia, with a warehouse in Manchester, England and other international locations to capitalise on their vast stores of post-war arms and ammunition.
Cummings bought large quantities of surplus World War II weapons. International Armament Corporation sells arms to everyone and anyone with the government's permission. Cumming says that over 30 million Kalashnikov rifles have been manufactured. Cumming sells to anyone who has an HMG license (Heavy Machine Gun). They sell them to the Middle Eastern countries.
During the Thatcher years, the British economy was militarised. One in ten workers in the industry as of the late 1990’s worked on the military material. The Ministry of Defence is industries biggest customer, spending more than 23 billion pounds per year. In order to pay for this, Britain sells arms to almost anyone who’ll pay for them.
The biggest arms deals end up at the Ministry of Defence (MOD) who run The Defence Export Service Organisation (DESO). DESO oversees 80 percent of Britain’s arms sales.
Lt Col Robert Jarman said that Thatcher believed that arms exporting were important to the United Kingdom.
There was sale such, as sale to Indonesia of 24 Hawk Fighter Aircraft. Foreign Secretary Douglas Heard flew to Jakarta and offered their government ‘aid for trade’. Within a few weeks, the Indonesians said yes to the Hawk Fighters. The British government announced massive financial aid to Indonesia, at total 81 million pounds in taxpayer’s money. These Hawks were used to attack and invade East Timor.
Margaret Thatcher had a great deal of interest in the arms trade. The Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) would meet weekly to discuss intelligence from around the world. Among the things being discussed was the international Arms trade, which was some of the work being done by MI6 agents. They would discuss who was buying from whom, terms, and commissions being made.
Robin Robinson was a Cabinet Officer between 1985 and 1990, he said the main things discussed by the JIC was technology and arms. He was told Thatcher as the Prime Minister to attend all JIC meetings, so she was deeply interested in intelligence meetings. There was never any discussion in these meetings about human right violations in the countries who were buying from the British armoury.
In 1985, Thatcher negotiate the Al-Yamamah deal which saw Britain sell fighter jets, missile and ships to Saudi Arabia worth £42 billion. Hundreds of millions of pounds were paid in secret commissions. Two National Audit Office reports on the Al-Yamamah have been suppressed on the grounds of national interest. Mark Thatcher, Margaret Thatcher’s son is accused of making 12 million dollars in commissions from the sales. This has been confirmed through CIA documentation.
British arms have been sold to some of the worst human right violators in the world. A British made torture chamber was sold to Dubai. British armoured cars took part in the Sharpeville massacre in South Africa. British made communication help Ugandan dictator Idi Amin. British made armoury is helping arm Turkey, Nigeria and Chile just to name a few.
According to MP Michael Meacher, billions of pounds of armoury was being exported throughout the 1980’s to both Iran and Iraq. With full knowledge of the British government. This was in spite of the ban placed upon them by the United Nation or British Intelligence.
This included Sir James Blyth, and Sir Colin Chandler who were past heads of the Network sales organisation. Sir Peter Levine, Sir John Cuckney and high ranching MI5 who also played a major part Thatcher arms deals. Thatcher said that sales to Iraq should be more flexible. In 1989 she told the House of Commons that the government had not changed their policy on the sales of arms to Iraq.
The truth is as soon as Thatcher took power, her ministers courted Saddam Hussain, Lord Carrington, Sir Cecil Parkinson, John Knott, and John Biffen and more. In 1981 John Heard tried to sell Hussain an entire air defence system. In 1985 Britain banned the sale of arms to Iraq, the flow of arms and money did not stop. In 1986 Alan Clark, then trade minister lead the way back to Iraq. In 1988 while John Moller, then a foreign office Minister was visiting Saddam Hussain, Saddam ordered the gassing of 5000 Kurds.
The Arms trade under Margaret Thatcher led to the downfall of the Astra Holdings PLC Company. According to Tim Laxton Acquisitions Advisor to Astra Holding (1986-90) Astra bought a company in Belgium called PRB which was involved in making parts for the ‘Super Gun’. The PRB sent the ‘Super Gun’ to Iraq via Jordon. Once Chris Gumbley of Astra found out about the ‘Super Gun’ project export to Iraq via Jordon, he tried to find out where the bribes were coming from.
Gerald James, Former Chairman of Astra Holdings found out through Gerald Ball (The inventor of the Super Gun) that there were strange government activities going on. Gerard Ball was later murdered.
In 1984, Britain and Jordan agreed on an arms deal worth 207 million pounds. This deal bore the personal stamp of Margret Thatcher. Gerald James said Astra was being used by IMS Integrated Weapons Complex a company owned by the Ministry of Defence. A high portion of sales was ending up in Iraq. James said he believed the ammunition was used in the Gulf War.