Canada might can arms deal with Saudi Arabia

Updated: Dec 18, 2018, 13:12 IST | Agencies | Montreal

As criticism mounts over the kingdom's role in murder of Jamal Khashoggi and the Riyadh-led war in Yemen, Canada seeks to undo giant 2014 deal

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Pics/AFP
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Pics/AFP

Canada is looking into ways to cancel a giant 2014 weapons deal with Saudi Arabia, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Sunday, as criticism mounts over the kingdom's role in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the Riyadh-led war in Yemen.

Trudeau had earlier said that it would be "extremely difficult" to withdraw from the contract, signed by the previous conservative administration, "without Canadians paying exorbitant penalties." But as evidence emerged of direct Saudi involvement in Khashoggi's murder on October 2, Canada in late November announced sanctions against 17 Saudi nationals linked to killing.

"The murder of a journalist is absolutely unacceptable and that's why Canada from the very beginning had been demanding answers and solutions on that," Trudeau said Sunday in an interview with CTV. "We inherited actually a (Canadian) dollars 15 billion contract signed by (former prime minister) Stephen Harper to export light-armored vehicles to Saudi Arabia," he said. "We are engaged with the export permits to try and see if there is a way of no longer exporting these vehicles to Saudi Arabia," he added.

The penalty for breaking the contract could exceed Canadian dollar 1 billion, Trudeau said in an interview with CBC Radio in October. Trudeau has been criticised by political opponents and Human Rights activists for failing to cancel the contract.

The deal
Ontario-based manufacturer General Dynamic Land Systems Canada inked the deal in 2014 to supply 928 LAV 6 armoured personnel carriers to Saudi Arabia. The deal, worth USD 11.5 billion, was the largest arms deal in Canadian history. But the contract was scaled back earlier this year amid protests.

Chinese arms rise in Mid East
The use of armed drones in the Middle East, driven largely by sales from China, has grown significantly in the past few years with an increasing number of countries and other parties using them in regional conflicts, a new report said Monday. The report by the Royal United Services Institute said that by capitalising on the gap in the market, Beijing has supplied armed drones to several countries that are not authorised to purchase them from the US.

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