Categories: Saudi Arabia

New document published: Saudi Arabian Air Defence Assistance Project Memorandum of Understanding

As I have explained in previous posts on this blog (see here and here) there has been no effective Parliamentary scrutiny of the Ministry of Defence’s Government-to-Government arms deals with Saudi Arabia. These deals have now been the subject of two Serious Fraud Office investigations, one still on-going.

These deals are underpinned by various Memoranda of Understanding whereby the British Government agrees to sell military equipment to the Saudi Government. The Ministry of Defence then places a contract with a prime contractor to carry out the work for the Saudis. For the Saudi British Defence Co-operation Programme (SBDCP – as the Al Yamamah programme is now known) and the Al Salam programme BAE Systems is the prime contractor. For the Saudi Arabian National Guard Communications (SANGCOM) Project the prime contractor is GPT Special Project Management Limited.

Unfortunately many of these Memoranda of Understanding are classified secrets.  Campaign Against Arms Trade‘s attempt to obtain some using the Freedom of Information Act were successfully resisted by the Ministry of Defence.  However, the 1985 Al Yamamah Memorandum of Understanding was published in 2006 by the Guardian newspaper. Now published on this website is the 1973 Memorandum of Understanding for the Saudi Arabian Air Defence Assistance Project (SADAP).  The SADAP Project was the direct predecessor of the Al Yamamah deal.

Memoranda of Understanding that underpin Britain’s arms deals with Saudi Arabia (that I am aware of) were agreed as follows:

  • SADAP: 7 May 1973 (now published), September 1977 (secret), 10 August 1982 (secret)
  • Al Yamamah/SBDCP: 26 September 1985 (published), 17 February 1986 (secret), 3 July 1988 (secret)
  • SANGCOM: 19 March 1978 (secret)
  • Al Salam: 21 December 2005 (secret)

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