Mar 28 2018

PKK rocket launchers came through arms controls loophole – investigation

The AT-4 rocket launchers used by fighters belonging to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) inside Turkey probably came from Iraq, to which the United States shipped them using a loophole to evade global arms controls, an Asia Times investigation said.

The AT-4s are single-use and capable of blowing up a Cold War-era tank or a small building, the newspaper said. Designed in Sweden, they were only ever made in that country, or under licence in the United States.

“When the Swedish authorities saw reports of AT-4s in Iraqi hands they asked the U.S. government for an explanation. The U.S. reply was that the 1982 contract that the weapons were produced under predates end-user agreements,” the Hong Kong-based news website said.

“While all the export of AT-4s purchased now from Sweden would be restricted by stringent end-user contracts, these agreements only started to become commonplace in the mid-1980s. AT-4s produced under this first American license can be shipped without restriction, allowing the U.S. to arm its partners regardless of their intended use or the prospect of them ending up in undesirable hands.”

Turkish authorities have captured eight of the rocket launchers in domestic anti-terror operations over the last two years, the Asia Times said, and because they are U.S.-manufactured, they have been fuelling a narrative that the United States is trying to damage Turkey.

“It is likely that the weapons were procured by the United States to Iraqi security forces before being captured by Islamic State forces.” it quoted Damien Spleeters, Head of Regional Operations for Conflict Armaments Research, as saying.

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