MADRID --- Spain appears to have bowed to financial pressure to deliver 400 laser-guided bombs to Saudi Arabia, reversing a recent decision to put the deal on hold.
The Socialist administration, which came to power in June, decided last week to halt the shipment, which was part of a €141.7 million arms deal signed in 2015 by the previous conservative government, citing fears that the weapons could be used against civilians and children in Yemen.
Saudi Arabia has been leading a Gulf Arab coalition fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen aligned with Iran. It has been accused of a series of bombings of civilian targets that has strained relations with its western backers.
The Spanish decision to halt the bomb deal had put pressure on Britain, the US and France, Saudi Arabia’s main arms suppliers, to follow suit but Josep Borrell, the foreign minister, confirmed today that the government had changed its mind and that the weapons would now be delivered.
“We have decided to deliver the bombs to Saudi Arabia because we have not detected irregularities in the contract which would have impeded this,” Mr Borrell told Spanish radio. “They are not the kind of bombs that can produce casualties against the civilian population.”
Pedro Sánchez, the prime minister, had planned to return €9.2 million that had already been paid to Spain by the Saudis for the bombs.
Madrid’s U-turn follows a threat by Riyadh to cancel a €2 billion deal to buy five Spanish naval corvettes — which would have threatened thousands of jobs at a state-run dockyard in Cadiz — as well as non-military contracts to build a high-speed train in the Gulf state.
Click here for the full story, on The Times website.