Updated: 05-Nov-2002 October 2002

11 Oct. 2002


NATO peacekeepers uncover illegal arms sales
in Bosnia and Herzegovina

An inspection by troops from the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Bosnia and Herzegovina (SFOR) has found evidence that a local company has breached United Nations resolutions on trade in weapons with Iraq.

SFOR troops carried out an unannounced inspection of ORAO, a state-owned weapons factory in Bijeljina, Republika Srpska, on 11 October.

The peacekeeping force is mandated by the Dayton Peace Accords to monitor the movement, storage, manufacture and repair of weapons in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This includes unannounced inspections of weapons manufacturers such as ORAO.

Although the investigation continues, there is clear evidence of a contract linking the ORAO factory in Bijeljina to the illegal export of weapons systems components through the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to Iraq.

In a statement released on 27 October, the Commander of SFOR, General William Ward, called on the government authorities to take swift action against the responsible individuals.

“I will not hesitate to use the powers granted to me under the GFAP [Dayton Accords] to impose other necessary changes and punishments in the event that those applied by the Republika Srpska Government are inadequate,” he said.

General Ward also said that SFOR stands ready to assist Bosnian authorities and the international community in improving state control over the production and export of military weapons and equipment, in order to prevent future non-compliance.

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