Italy has halted the sale of thousands of missiles to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) due to their involvement in the Yemen conflict, making permanent an 18-month temporary suspension.
“Today I am announcing that the government has revoked the authorisations under way for the export of missiles and aircraft bombs to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates,” Italy’s Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said on Friday.
“[This is] an act that we considered due, a clear message of peace coming from our country. For us, respect for human rights is an unbreakable commitment,” said Di Maio, who did not mention Yemen but had referenced the conflict there when he ordered the initial suspension in July 2019.
Italy’s Peace and Disarmament Network, a campaign group, hailed the move as “historic” and estimated that it would see orders for more than 12,700 ordnance cancelled.
The blocked sales were part of a total allotment of 20,000 missiles worth more than 400 million euros ($485m) agreed in 2016 under a centre-left government led by former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, the disarmament group said.
It “puts an end, once and for all, to the possibility that thousands of ordnance manufactured in Italy could strike civilian facilities, cause casualties among the population or contribute to worsening the already serious humanitarian situation”, the group said.
There was no public reaction from Saudi Arabia or the UAE by the time of publication.