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Difficult Controlling Where Weapons End Up

Published tisdag 28 juli 2009 kl 16.11
Colombian soldiers patrolling former Farc territory

Swedish-made anti-tank weapons were found in the hands of FARC guerrillas in Colombia. After the discovery, Colombian authorities contacted manufacturer Saab Bofors Dyanmics to find out where they came from. Bofors then traced the serial numbers of the bazooka-like launchers to an order delivered to Venezuela in the 1980s.

Somehow, the weapons ended up somewhere they weren't supposed to. But who really bears responsibility when weapon exports land in the wrong hands?

The AT4 is a very light and very portable weapon used to destroy armoured vehicles and fortifications. It's been a great seller for Swedish company Saab Bofors Dynamics, who has exported the weapon to many NATO countries, including the United States.

But despite that Bofors hasn't exported to Colombia in years, the AT4 has now been found among the FARC guerrillas, a group the EU has black-listed as terrorist. Their serial numbers tell a story of Venezuelan involvement, and the Swedish authorities now demand an explanation of how they landed in the guerrillas' hands.

But the real question is how much Sweden can actually do to control arms exports after the weapons have already been delivered. According to Pieter Wezeman, a senior researcher at the Swedish International Peace Research Institute, Swedish authorities do have some strategies in place to control the final destination of Swedish-made weapon exports. But in the long run, it's very difficult to control where these weapons end up.

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