Thursday, May 8, 2003

Arms Dealing Northern Ireland and South Africa

As an organisation that works on peacebuilding in different countries, I thought it is worth noting that sometimes it is disturbing things that link worlds. I heard today that a Northern Ireland firm won the missile contract for South African arms spending. An air defence company in Belfast has won a multi-million pound contract to supply missiles to South Africa. It is the first export order won by the French owned Thales Air Defence for its short-range Starstreak missile system. The British army currently uses the system. The contract, with the South African defence forces is believed to be worth about £12m. See the BBC article.

Just received this from a concerned Northern Ireland citizen....

A satisfied Thabo Mbeki stated:

"We are delighted that Northern Ireland is so desperate for jobs that the government is prepared to provide generous grants to attract companies who make military arsenal to invest there. Some Northern Ireland residents are said to be dismayed to learn of this boost for a company they see as feeding the international war machine in manufacturing weapons of mass destruction. However, as President of the United States of Southern Africa - whoops I mean president of South Africa, I would like to take this opportunity to reassure Northern Ireland people that this company in fact produces only weapons of moderate destruction, and not weapons of mass destruction at all. Weapons of moderate destruction only kill and maim hundreds of people at a time, not thousands, and injuries are always much more benign than those caused by weapons of mass destruction, so there is really no need to worry. Victims might lose an arm or a leg, or their whole family, but at least their skin won't turn purple and fall off (at least I don't think so). You can also be reassured by the fact that we have no intention of using the weapons we're buying anyway - but we would like to pull them out every now and then and polish them in front of the big guys we so desperately want to emulate and impress - you can understand that can't you? Surely? You know it makes sense.

Thabo Mbeki President USSA