Sunday, 18 November 2007

Weapons firm’s role in St Athan academy condemned

From the Western Mail :

Nov 9 2007 by Martin Shipton, Western Mail

CAMPAIGNERS have condemned the Assembly Government for backing a huge military training project, despite the involvement of a weapons company previously linked to cluster bombs.The St Athan Defence Academy is due to create 5,000 jobs in the Vale of Glamorgan by 2013.
But an anti-military group called the Cluster Munition Coalition says that one of the major companies involved in the academy, Raytheon, has been involved in manufacturing devices that carry cluster munitions. Raytheon, a leading American arms firm, insists it no longer produces weapons capable of carrying cluster bombs. But campaigners say they remain concerned. Anne Greagsby, co-ordinator of the campaign to stop the St Athan academy from being built, said, “In 2005 a European Parliament resolution was introduced to ban investments in companies, such as Raytheon, that have produced cluster munitions. In response to this, Norway and Belgium have already endorsed this call. Liverpool City Council has also recently adopted a similar position. “Yet the Welsh government has ignored all of these concerns, and instead launched a high profile development project with Raytheon.“Raytheon is a central member of the Metrix Consortium that was awarded the St Athan Defence Training Academy contract in January 2007. The St Athan Defence Academy has been supported by all of the main political parties in Wales and sold to the public on the basis of alleged benefits to the economy. “The involvement in the project of the world’s largest arms companies has so far not received any attention.” Ms Greagsby added, “Given the evident public concern over cluster bombs and the arms trade more generally, I am sure that most people would be shocked to hear that the Assembly has laid a welcome mat for such companies, especially after other governments have turned their backs on them.”
In 2005, the Advisory Council on Ethics for the Norwegian Government Pension Fund excluded Raytheon from the fund’s investment portfolio, along with other manufacturers associated with cluster munitions. In 2007, Belgium passed a law banning all investments in any companies still producing cluster munitions. Raytheon is still producing the AGM154 Joint Standoff Weapon, which according to its website,“is a family of low-cost, highly lethal weapons that can engage a wide spectrum of targets – from soft targets to hardened point targets – over a range of threat environments by using highly integrated Global Positioning System and Inertial Measurement System guidance.” Ms Greagsby said, “It has been reported that a Raytheon device hit the Shu’ale market in Baghdad in 2003, killing at least 62 civilians, and that a Raytheon device hit Qana in Lebanon in 2006, killing at least 28 civilians, including 16 children.” Veteran former Labour MP Tony Benn has signed a petition opposing plans to build the £14bn defence training academy at RAF St Athan. The project has also been criticised by CND Cymru.
A spokesman for Raytheon said, “Raytheon does not manufacture cluster bombs or any associated delivery vehicles. Any assertion to the contrary is based on dated information that is no longer valid or correct. “To clarify, Raytheon has never manufactured cluster bombs, but in the past we have been associated with their manufacture because of our contract to produce a missile that can carry different types of munition payloads, determined by the customer. One configuration allowed it to carry cluster bomb payloads, which were not produced by Raytheon. “But in any case, Raytheon has completed its contracted production run for this particular missile, and we have no plans to resume production. Furthermore, Raytheon has no other products in development that are designed to dispense cluster submunitions.”First Minister Rhodri Morgan said, “The development at St Athan is vital if our armed forces are to have the best possible training to equip them to deal with any threat to the safety and security of this country and its people. “The training activities at St Athan are related to engineering and IT skills, which are also useful in civilian life as well. “Under the Metrix consortium’s proposals, the army, navy and air force will get better training to protect the UK from enemies, both now and in the future. “Raytheon is one of the partners in the consortium. They have made it clear to the Welsh Assembly Government that they do not manufacture cluster bombs or any missiles capable of delivering the weapons, and they have no plans to do so in future Any claim to the contrary is wrong and based on old information. “The UK government is committed to banning the production, stockpiling and use of cluster bombs, and has signed a joint declaration with 45 other countries to achieve this aim.”

1 comment:

Anne said...

Jill is the only politician in Wales with the courage to challenge the privatisation and concentration of military training at St Athan to be delivered by a consortium which includes arms dealers Raytheon associated with the deliver of cluster bombs.
Where Did this figure of 5,000 even 6,000 jobs come from? That is pure spin at best or deliberate falsehood! The BBC, Peter Black, Huw Lewis and Bryant are all quoting 5/6,000 jobs at St Athan when they know that most are to be transferred in to St Athan and that the MOD has annouced 1,100 after it dumped half the iniatial plan - or package 2? It will be 1,100 - yes 1,100 and nothing near the 5,000 jobs promised and that Emperor Rhodri Morgan was drinking champagne to celebrate! Most of the ‘high skill’ jobs been transferred in are for instructional officers who are in the main ex-forces with additional training of 5 years on top of that. Not many of those going to Barry job centre will have those qualifications.
PCS, the union that represents many MOD staff says that the number of jobs in scope of package 1 has dropped from 1500 to 1100. These 400 posts are those not directly linked to training delivery. Package 2 has been dumped by the government as it is too expensive.
This contract will be the largest PFI/PPP project ever undertaken by the Ministry of Defence and will be the largest partnering arrangement ever undertaken in the UK. A Private Finance Initiative (PFI) for DTR in simplistic terms means that the winning consortia will effectively own all of the real estate and services for training for the next 25 years. For this they will be paid an annual sum and must, by law, make a profit for their shareholders. The contract is worth £19 billion.
They couldn’t make a privatised railway work so it is pretty unbelievable that we even suggest privatising military training never mind applauding it especially when it is to be delivered by private arms companies that are excluded from any ethical investing country, bank or charity as in Norway and Belgium.
In a recent press release PCS, (Union) welcomed the MoD U-turn on training privatisation and the announcement by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to halt the privatisation of approximately 4,000 staff who train the armed forces in driving armoured vehicles, lorries and jeeps as well as languages. The union hailed the decision to keep one half of defence training in the public sector as a victory for common sense which would ensure world class training for the armed forces whilst providing value for money for the taxpayer.
PCS called on the MoD to see sense and halt the privatisation of the other half of defence training which includes technical and mechanical training. The union warned that pushing ahead with remaining half of defence training would represent poor value for money and lead to a loss of knowledge and experience as staff would refuse to relocate to the new training base in South Wales….
Jill is right that we should stop and take an honest look at what is being proposed for St Athan.
For more information See http://www.cynefinywerin see also our blog www.metrixconsortium.blogspot.com
http://www.nomurderacademyatstathans.com/
our briefings on:Qinetiq - http://www.cynefinywerin.org.uk/index.php?docid=286
Raytheon - http://www.cynefinywerin.org.uk/index.php?docid=287
and our cluster bombs press release -
http://www.cynefinywerin.org.uk/index.php?docid=288