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Syria: White Phosphorus

Question for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office

UIN HL10687, tabled on 25 November 2020

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 24 November (HL10150) whether they will answer the entirety of the question put, namely what assessment they have made of reports that more than 70 export licences have been issued by the UK for military products sold to Turkey containing white phosphorous over the last two decades.

Answered on

10 December 2020

Licensing records dating back to 2000 show that the UK has granted a small number of export licences for Turkey for products which it has not be possible to discount they may contain white phosphorus. Each licence application is carefully assessed against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria, based on the most up-to-date information and analysis available, including reports from NGOs and in the media. These Criteria provide a thorough risk assessment framework and require the Government to think hard about the impact of providing equipment and its capabilities.

White phosphorus is commonly used in smoke grenades as well as in decoy and countermeasure equipment, for example to protect aircraft against attack, and in signalling flares. These products are in use across NATO armed forces, including British forces, but they must be used in accordance with international humanitarian law. White phosphorus is not a prohibited substance.