back to article Britain approved £2.5m of snooping kit exports to thoroughly snuggly regime in Saudi Arabia

British ministers have approved the export of more than £2.4m worth of telecoms snooping gear to Saudi Arabia, in spite of its very obvious human rights problems, according to a report. Five licences were granted to send "telecommunications interception equipment" to the controversial kingdom, which was most recently in the …

  1. macjules Silver badge
    FAIL

    Could have been worse ..

    .. as they could have been sending supplies of concentrated acid to Saudi embassies as well.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Could have been worse ..

      Who says they haven't ?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Could have been worse ..

      There are 140 tonnes of plutonium gathering dust at Sellafield, aqua regia is the least of our potential export worries.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        140 tonnes gets somebody a hell of a lot of self-respect

        Scene: the Large Exhibition Room at the Gleneagles Hotel. A keen golfer and former US embassy "Energy Attaché' addresses the audience, after being introduced by a US energy industrialist:

        "The future nuclear state will be an absolute state, whose authority will derive not from the people but from the possession of plutonium. And just to make sure we all know what we're talking about here, I brought some of the stuff along with me today.

        [mixed reaction from audience as he pulls out briefcase, takes out two bars of plutonium, and briefly brings them together, causing a very visible burst of radiation]

        400 rads, ladies and gentlemen. A lethal dose to anyone within ten yards. Get it while it's hot!

        [audience leaves in panic]

        [speaker shouts at empty conference room] Hey what's the matter? Don't y'all wanna be part of the New Age of plutonium lunacy? Don't you want to see the Earth become a desert, all its resources plundered to build a New Jerusalem in the Milky Way?

        [time passes, scene changes]

        That's the problem with plutonium, it's limited in its application. It's not user-friendly. But as a vehicle for regaining one's self-respect, oh, it's got a lot going for it! Damn right I turned it into a 20kg bomb! "

    3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Could have been worse ..

      . as they could have been sending supplies of concentrated acid

      Have you tried to see what happens if you dump a pork chop (as most easily obtainable) into concentrated acid? I have - as a student.

      If it is HCl, nothing happens. If it is one of the other usual suspects, you will need an lab grade hood to deal with the fumes. I do not think the ambassador residences are usually fitted with one. Then, once the reaction completes, you will be "pleasantly surprised" that it does not dissolve and there is plenty of residue left and there is plenty of acid left too which you cannot easily get rid of.

      We have been selling them plenty of other "wonderful stuff" anyway. For decades. Some of it much more "interesting" than concentrated acid.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why pay for it? Just use Chinese infrastructure for your networks,

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Do the Chinese give you a copy of what they gather?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        If you're monitoring your network properly, yes.

  3. asdf Silver badge

    The worst timeline

    Plenty of room for the UK in the axis of evil (US, Russia, Saudi Arabia). Come join us as we watch western civ decay. Guess you all are doing your part from the outside already.

  4. 10forcash

    We need all the export business we can get now brex-pocalypse is almost on us.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      With the pound constantly falling, the UK will have to run just to be able to stand still. Cue selling anything to any regime in the world, dismantling of the welfare state, getting rid of labour rights, etc... in a fruitless attempt to maintain GDP.

  5. This post has been deleted by its author

  6. A. Coatsworth
    Boffin

    >>Such equipment has obvious uses in a tightly-controlled country ruled by theocrats.

    Shirley, Iran is ruled by theocrats? I thought Arabia is your garden variety dynastic dictatorship...

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Almost. Saudi Arabia is ruled by the (extended) royal family but mostly they assume power by virtue of religion, given they have Mecca and so much that is valued by Muslims. Not that it means much in terms of protection of historical value:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Destruction_of_early_Islamic_heritage_sites_in_Saudi_Arabia

      (Just to add that I have little religious interest, but see the destruction or re-writing of history as an unforgivable crime against our descendants)

    2. Denarius Silver badge
      Coat

      @ A Coatsworth

      out of curiosity, what is a country run by atheocrats called ? North Korea ?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @ A Coatsworth

        Kim Il-sung is the one and only god of Best Korea, it is whom we worship.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wouldn't worry too much

    Having the gear is not enough, you also need people who are trained to operate it to a sufficient degree to have the benefit of it.

    If experience with counter surveillance gear is anything to go by, this gear will be used for a while and then the operators will be tasked with something else. Six months later the required skills are gone and the gear will be collecting dust and no longer be kept up to date.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "people who are trained to operate it ..."

    "people who are trained to operate it to a sufficient degree to have the benefit of it."

    Surely Serco or similar have a Saudi branch? BAe Systems and Rolls Royce (jet engines) appear to have the right contacts (and contract skills) too.

    If not them, how about something from the Blair Institute for Global Change - "we aim to help make globalisation work for the many, not the few", they say..(yes, really, it exists).

    Probably not a job for Carillion or Crapita or G4S or Interserve or even Qinetiq though.

    1. DJV Silver badge

      Blair Institute for Global Change

      Shirley that should be the Blair Institute for Global Change, Rape And Pillage (initially).

  9. 10forcash

    Most likely they'll have a wing at RAF Valley dedicated to training the operators to save the embarrassment of having UK defence contractors on foreign soil - just like they do for the RSAF pilots

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Training Saudi pilots at RAF Valley (Anglesey, North Wales)

      is ongoing and seems to have had remarkably little coverage in the UK press - the Mirror Group (which owns the north wales-oriented regional newspaper the Daily Post) seems to be the only one that the default adbroker/search finds.

      https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/saudi-pilots-trained-raf-more-13537652 (5 Nov 2018)

      https://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/north-wales-news/protesters-gather-raf-base-over-15385581

      [nb: ad blocker strongly recommended for MirrorGroup sites]

      1. I'm like, Spartacus, dude.

        Re: Training Saudi pilots at RAF Valley (Anglesey, North Wales)

        It's been happening for years. Saudi Army recce & artillery spotter pilots were being trained by the British Army at RAF Middle Wallop in Hampshire in the 1950's. Along with other countries' pilots of course, including Israel, Pakistan, et al. Politics is a complex game.

  10. RunawayLoop

    Paraphrasing

    Won't somebody please think of the oil!

    Delicious, yummy oil!!!

  11. Dabbb Bronze badge

    Who was Jamal Khashoggi, anyway?

    That's actually the main question here.

  12. astounded1

    This Annoying Saudi Guy With A Saw Out In My Garden...

    I've been posting a few things about the big amphibian Mohammed Bin Salamander and his evil ranks and, wouldn't you know it, they came back up my light streamed packets and there they are, having tea outside the window, waiting for me to step outside.

    Fortunately for me, I have an escape tunnel.

    Wait, what? The UK spy kit means they now know I have an escape tunnel?

    Hold on...Oh no! The saw guy is holding up a sign. It reads, "We know you have a tunnel."

    Shite.

  13. NanoMeter

    Money don't smell...

    unless someone who has pooped and not washed their hands touches them.

  14. Potemkine! Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Bloody bastards. All of them, from the coders who made the software to the ministers allowing the sell. They are all accomplice of the tortures and murders to come.

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