Little is known about the secretive (and now largely outsourced) Spanish cluster bomb industry – until its products turn up in foreign lands.
Spain has signed up to, but not yet implemented into domestic legislation, the Convention on Cluster Munitions. It is time Spain implemented the legislation and also provided full transparency about its past activities, in order to prevent further use of Spanish cluster bombs.
The Spanish government and cluster bombs
The Spanish government ceased issuing any export licences for cluster munitions on 11 June 2008. They declared their stocks of cluster munitions on 2 December 2008 including 2,271 MAT-120s – all of which they have declared to have been destroyed (1852) or retained for training purposes (419).*
Snr Miguel Sebastian, the current industry minister, should make full disclosure as to where all the cluster munitions produced in Spain have gone.
Miguel Sebastian, of course was, earlier in his career, Assistant Director-General of Banco Bilbao Vizcaya (BBV) and Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria(BBVA).
BBVA has been singled out for criticism by human rights and citizens groups for its human rights record and for its links with the arms industry.
BBVA was also criticised by Pax Christi for having no rules banning it from transactions linked to cluster bombs.
The Spanish government now needs to confirm:
1) What happened to the machinery for making cluster bombs owned by Instalaza and Expal. Are companies in other countries now making variants of these Spanish bombs?
2) Full details of all exports of all cluster munitions
3) To explain why they made these exports
4) To explain why the information about the recipients of cluster bombs has been covered up in the past
Spanish media reports indicate that Instalaza have denied selling the MAT-120 weapons to Libya. When HRI contacted Instalaza, on a number of occasions, they were surprisingly reluctant to discuss their products.
On top of that, munitions found in Misrata in April 2011, dated 2007 (batches 02/07 and 03/07) look remarkably similar to products from the Instalaza company.
Regarding exports of cluster munions to Libya, the Spanish Export Statistics regarding Defence Material, Other Material and Dual-Use Items and Technologies, 2007 on page 51 in the table of Authorised exports of Defence Material by Country 2007 shows 3 licenses were issued by Spain to a value of 3,823,500 Euros.
On page 53 in the table of Authorised Exports of Defence Material by Country and Article 2007 we see these exports are in category 4, which includes cluster bombs and missiles.
In Spanish Export Statistics regarding Defence Material, Other Material and Dual-Use Items and Technologies, 2008 on page 56 in the table of Exports of Defence Material Completed, 2008 we see actual exports were made valued at 3,839,210 Euros.
DESCRIPTION OF THE 22 ARTICLES FIGURING ON THE LIST OF DEFENCE MATERIAL (ROYAL DECREE 1782/2004 OF 30 JULY
2 Smooth-bore weapons with a calibre of 20 mm or more:
Firearms (including pieces of artillery), rifles, howitzers, cannons, mortars, anti-tank weapons, projectile launchers, flame throwers, recoilless rifles, signature reduction devices, military smoke, gas and pyrotechnic projectors or generators and weapons sights.
3 Ammunition, devices and components
Ammunition for the weapons subject to control by articles 1, 2 or 12. Fusesetting devices including cases, links, bands, power supplies with high operational output, sensors, submunitions
4 Bombs, torpedoes, rockets, missiles
Bombs, torpedoes, grenades, smoke canisters, rockets, mines, missiles, depth charges, demolition charges, “pyrotechnic” devices, cartridges and simulators, smoke grenades, incendiary bombs, missile rocket nozzles and re-entry vehicle nosetips.
These categories, used in the Spanish Report, are in line with those of the Common Military List of the European Union.
Reading the Spanish government reports there is absolutely no mention of supplying cluster munitions to Libya and close analysis of the text even suggests they couldn’t have – so why the cover-up?
Alaveses Explosives, Inc. (EXPAL) is a dedicated solely to military equipment manufacturing sub-munitions and explosives. It produces all sorts of projectiles, fuses, shells and bombs.
EXPAL land mines infest the Western Sahara and Colombia and Saddam Hussein’s mustard gas bombs in the Iran-Iraq war were housed in EXPAL casings.
Bombs of EXPAL
The BME 330 AT (anti-tank) bomb is one of a family of three air-launched cluster bombs that was been developed by Expal for use by the Spanish Air Force and for export purposes.
The other two were the BME 330 AR (anti-runway) bomb and the BME 330 C (multipurpose) bomb.
It is unknown where these were sold.
- This picture shows Spanish made cluster bombs which are dropped from the air – where did these go?
In June 2006, EXPAL appointed as president Francisco Torrente, a former admiral of the Spanish Navy, who only months before had held the post of Secretary General for Defence Policy. Following this move EXPAL contracts with the Ministry of Defense improved remarkably, winning several contracts, including one for the destruction of the 5 600 cluster bombs in possession of the Spanish armed forces, many of which it had produced itself.
EXPAL is part of the EXPAL MaxamCorp, formerly Spanish Union of Explosives (UEE) which comprises six companies in Spain dedicated to the manufacture of all types of explosives. Maxam is a multinational with presence in many countries the current owners including Bank Santander.
EXPAL has signed a partnership agreement with Brazilian explosive and arms company Imbel.
In the story of EXPAL and Instalaza we see the familiar story of close links between the government, banks and the arms industry and the outsourcing of production to states with lower standards of regulation.
*Update 3rd July 2011 based on the text of the letter of the Spanish Foreign Minister Annex II describing numbers and date of cluster bomb stockpiles on 2 December 2011.