10th November 2018
UK: 61 FIREARMS SEIZED AND 10 PEOPLE ARRESTED IN A NATIONAL OPERATION TARGETING BLANK-FIRING WEAPONS PURCHASED ONLINE
On 9th November, an NCA news release reported that at least 61 firearms have been seized and 10 people arrested in a national operation targeting customers who had purchased prohibited blank-firing weapons online. The 10 arrested were previously identified by NCA investigators as having bought Flobert or blank-firing weapons online from sellers in eastern Europe – many of the blank-firers purchased were readily convertible to chamber live ammunition.
SHARIA COURT IN DUBAI VETOES UK FREEZING ORDER ON SUPERYACHT ‘LUNA’
Superyacht News on 9th November reported that Russian oligarch and gas and oil tycoon Farkhad Akhmedov, who has been fighting an acrimonious divorce battle against his ex-spouse, Tatiana Akhmedov, over the superyacht, Luna, has been granted permission to recover the vessel by judges in a court in Dubai.
NORWAY: 6 CHARGED FOR SMUGGLING NEARLY 400 KG OF GOLD
Customs Today on 2nd November reported that 6 men in Oslo district court, accused of smuggling a total of 397 kg of gold. The indictment states that 2 must have introduced or facilitated the import of the gold. The gold was not confiscated, and the 2 business owners alone owe about 28 million kroner in unpaid customs duties.
GREECE AND TURKEY SNIPE OVER MARITIME BORDERS
Customs Today on 5th November said that Turkey warned Greece it would not tolerate a shift in Greece’s maritime border, drawing a sharp rebuke from Greece that it would decide when and how it exercises its sovereign rights. The statements from both sides came a few days after Greece’s former foreign minister said Greece planned to extend its territorial waters to 12 miles to the west of the country.
IN-TRANSIT HIJACKINGS ARE THE NUMBER-ONE THREAT TO TRUCKING OPERATIONS AROUND THE WORLD
Loadstar on 9th November carried an article reporting that in-transit hijackings are the number-one threat to trucking operations around the world, according to a new report by insurer TT Club and supply chain intelligence provider BSI. It reports that haulage is by far the most vulnerable freight mode and that, in global terms, hijacking is the most likely way theft would take place. In South America, hijacking represents 55% of all truck theft, while in Africa and the Middle East it accounts for 51%.
ECUADOR EX-PRESIDENT FACES TRIAL FOR KIDNAPPING
Jurist on 9th November reported that Ecuador’s National Court of Justice has ordered Ecuador’s former president, Rafael Correa, to stand trial for his alleged role in the 2012 attempted kidnapping of Correa’s political opponent, Fernando Balda. Balda claims that 5 men attempted to kidnap him in Bogota in 2012 on Correa’s orders and that the kidnapping was discovered and halted by Colombian authorities. The court cannot move forward with the trial until Correa returns to Ecuador.
NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR SIGNS BILL TO BAN 3D-PRINTED GUNS
Jurist on 9th November reported that the New Jersey Governor had signed legislation prohibiting the sale of materials to produce “ghost guns” in the state. It criminalises selling manufactured parts or designs for assembling firearms by non-licensed individuals and effectively makes it illegal for individuals to assemble or possess a 3D printed firearm in New Jersey.
DISRUPTIVE DEVELOPMENTS IN UAV (DRONE) TECHNOLOGY
This paper from the UN Directorate for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) says that existing political concerns regarding armed UAV are principally focused on the use of Medium Altitude Long Endurance UAV in uncontested airspace. The paper considers whether small armed UAV may provide a disruptive capability far more rapidly than their larger cousins. It identifies the ongoing technological developments that will contribute to the capabilities of future systems and encourages States to consider whether they will enable new, destabilising, military practices. The key takeaways are identified as being – while UAV will not directly replace manned combat aircraft, they will steadily augment them, taking over many functions in high-intensity conflict as well as counter-insurgency operations; small armed UAV are already widespread and are being fielded in an increasing number of theatres by both small State and non-State actors; and small UAV are gaining increasing levels of autonomy, providing higher capability at low cost.
An earlier paper, also published in 2018, identifies trends in the expanding development, transfer and use of armed of UAV to support States to consider whether there is a need for common standards or international understandings to be developed, with a view to ensuring appropriate levels of transparency, oversight and accountability for their transfer and use.
APPLYING CONVENTIONAL ARMS CONTROL IN THE CONTEXT OF UN ARMS EMBARGOES
This paper from UNIDIR says that the past decade has witnessed the highest number of UN arms embargoes running concurrently across the globe – but that not enough attention has been paid to the processes for reassessing, adjusting and terminating arms embargoes and how this relates to conventional arms control. This study examines exactly this question, providing an overview of the evolution of arms embargo measures throughout UN sanctions history, examining challenges in reassessing and adjusting sanctions regimes and analysing the increasing use of arms control obligations to accompany these adjustments. This study further considers how analysis of weapons and ammunition management (WAM) capacities might be more systematically integrated into assessments of arms embargoes and how a more robust use of arms control obligations could support the objectives of embargoes and sanctions regimes. Finally, this report examines 5 separate country case studies to identify common trends, indicators and lessons to be learned.
NORWAY SUSPENDS ARMS EXPORT LICENCES TO SAUDI ARABIA
The Daily Star in Lebanon on 9th November reported that Norway has announced that it was suspending new licences for arms exports to Saudi Arabia following recent developments in the Gulf kingdom and the situation in Yemen.
UK: MAN SENTENCED OVER PIPE BOMBS SENT FROM SWEDEN
Police professional on 9th November reported that a Swedish man has been jailed after an explosive device was delivered to a cryptocurrency company in London having travelled by airmail. Jermu Michael Salonen has been sentenced to 6½ years in prison in Sweden for attempted murder and sending malicious letters.
IRAN WRITES TO IMO OVER “ILLEGAL” US BANS ON SCORES OF IRANIAN SHIPS
Hellenic Shipping News on 10th November reported that Iran has lodged a complaint with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) against the US over the re-imposition of sweeping sanctions, which target scores of Iranian ships as part of Washington’s push to cut off the country’s oil exports. It describes moves as “as a measure that violates international maritime law and endangers maritime security”.
SUDAN’S AND US IN SECOND PHASE OF STRATEGIC TALKS AIMED AT REMOVING SUDAN FROM THE STATE SPONSORS OF TERRORISM LIST
Defence Web on 8th November reported that Sudan’s foreign ministry said Khartoum and Washington have agreed on a second phase of strategic talks aimed at removing Sudan from the US state sponsors of terrorism list. The US lifted 20-year-old trade sanctions on Sudan a year ago and economists say foreign investors and banks are put off by Washington’s continued designation by Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism, alongside Iran, North Korea and Syria.
DMITRY RYBOLOVLEV – RUSSIAN TYCOON, SUSPECT IN MONACO GRAFT PROBE, ARRIVED IN MOSCOW
Reuters on 10th November reported that Rybolovlev, one of Russia’s richest men who made his fortune running fertiliser producer Uralkali until he sold it in 2010, was released after a judge in Monaco declared him a formal suspect in a corruption probe.
MALTA: DAVID CASA DRAWS MONEYVAL’S ATTENTION TO 17 BLACK SITUATION
MYSTERY COMPANY NAMED BY MURDERED MALTESE JOURNALIST LINKED TO POWER STATION DEVELOPER
The Malta Independent on 10th November reported that Partit Nazzjonalista’s Head of Delegation in the European Parliament, David Casa, has called on MONEYVAL to look into the 17 Black situation. He is reported to have said that the owner of 17 Black has been revealed as Yorgen Fenech, the Electrogas power station director; and, according to correspondence between Mossack Fonseca and Nexia BT, 17 Black was to transfer €150,000 monthly to each Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri, 2 high-level PEP that are the minds behind Malta’s power station project – one the Energy Minister and one the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff; that funds from entities associated with the power station project were transferred to 17 Black; and that funds have now been frozen in 17 Black’s bank account at Noor bank in Dubai. He also said that AML laws are not worth the paper they are printed on unless they are enforced.
CHINA’S CNPC TO TAKE OIL FROM IRANIAN FIELDS IT OWNS AS NORMAL
Customs Today on 9th November reported that China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) is continuing to take oil from Iranian oilfields where it has ownership stakes, even after the US re-imposed sanctions on the country’s oil sector. The state-owned oil giant entered Iran in 2004 when it acquired the MIS oilfield, in which it now holds a 75% stake.
100 YEARS AFTER WORLD WAR I, THE US ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS IS STILL CLEANING UP THE RELICS OF EXPERIMENTS THAT HELPED DEVELOP CHEMICAL WEAPONS TO COUNTER THE GERMANS’ GAS ATTACKS
The New York Times on 10th November published a fascinating (and slightly surprising) article about a site formerly used by the US for chemical warfare experiments. When the German launched gas attacks, the US Army had neither gas masks nor protective gear, and no capacity for producing or deploying chemical weapons. Doctors had no experience with gassed or chemically burned soldiers, and there was little time to catch up. The War Department set up a laboratory, initially under the civilian Bureau of Mines, called the American University Experiment Station, at a place nicknamed “Mustard Hill”. The experiment station reverted to American University when the war ended. Several years later, the Corps of Engineers reopened its examination of the area, acknowledging that it had prematurely shut down the clean-up. The contamination and debris proved more extensive than originally believed.
CHINA’S CORPORATE ESPIONAGE
Real Clear Defense in the US on 7th November carried an article saying that a series of court documents and statements by US government officials have highlighted China’s corporate espionage efforts once more, suggesting that Beijing will continue to prioritise the theft of trade secrets. One priority identified by the Chinese government is the acquisition of jet engine technology, for both domestic and military use.
CHINA’S BEATING THE US TO MARKET ON COMBAT DRONES BY COPYING US TECHNOLOGY
Defense One, in a 6th November report, remarked on how similar to the now-cancelled US Navy X-47B China’s CH-7 combat drone appears to be. According to China Daily, if the CH-7 makes its first flight next year and stays on track, it will be the sole option for buyers wanting to field stealth combat drones in 2022.
LEGO WINS INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY INFRINGEMENT ACTION AGAINST 4 CHINESE COMPANIES
Illicit Trade on 10th November reported that 4 Chinese firms have been ordered to stop producing building blocks and miniature figures that infringe Lego’s trademarks after the Danish toymaker won a new intellectual property lawsuit at Guangzhou Yuexiu District Court. According to the court, the four Chinese companies had infringed the trademarks of 18 Lego products, copied numerous mini figures created by the Danish firm, and acted in a manner that fostered unfair competition between themselves and Lego.