Switzerland halts arms exports to Lebanon due to missing weapons

Until now arms could be sold to those units in charge of protecting political figures. © Keystone / Peter Klaunzer

Inability to account for a Swiss shipment of weapons exported to Lebanon has resulted in a freeze of arms exports, authorities have announced.

This content was published on February 21, 2019

On Wednesday, the head of the Economics Ministry informed the government that exports of war materiel to Lebanon would no longer be allowed until further notice.

This decision is linked to post-shipment verification last year of 10 assault rifles and 30 sub-machine guns that were exported to Lebanon in 2016. Swiss inspectors were only able to verify and inspect nine of the 40 small arms.

It is not known whether the missing weapons were handed over to another recipient or whether access was denied to the Swiss authorities for other reasons. It was agreed that that the risk of the weapons ending up in undesirable hands is high and justifies a halt in licensing exports under the provisions of the Ordinance on War Materiel.

Switzerland already has restrictions on the export of arms to Lebanon: they can only be sold to those units in charge of protecting political figures (such as the presidential guard). Previous post-shipment verification in 2013 and 2015 did not present any problems.

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