Mikael Damberg, leader of the Social Democratic party's representatives in parliament. Photo: Maria Gustafsson/Sverigesradio.
weapon exports

Social Democrats oppose Saudi arms deals

Sweden's biggest party wants a new law, that would stop Sweden exporting weapons to countries ruled by dictators, says the leader of the Social Democrats' representatives in parliament.

Mikael Damberg says that "future laws should not make it possible to export combat weapons to dictators", in an interview with Sweden Radio on Saturday.

This follows an investigation earlier this year by Swedish Radio that revealed plans to set up a Swedish facility in Saudi Arabia to repair and upgrade armour-piercing rocket launchers. Swedish Defence Minister Sten Tolgfors cited media attention on this issue as one reason for his resignation.

But, until Saturday, the two biggest political parties - Social Democrats and Moderates - seemed to be united in their support for arms deals with Saudi Arabia. Despite both being in favour some change in the law, neither party was ready to say that they would forbid outright weapons sales to dictatorships, or break off such trade with Saudi Arabia, which is run by a monarchy.

Now Damberg has signalled a new line for his party "under the new law it should not be allowed to export combat weapons to, for example, Saudi Arabia." He says that he does not know why the Moderates are delaying this issue, adding that there is a clear majority in the parliament that wants a toughening of the weapons export law.

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