INTERNATIONAL. Switzerland said it was freezing arms exports to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) after a media report said a Swiss-made hand grenade originally shipped to the Gulf state had been found in Syria.
The government took the decision after a Swiss newspaper published a picture of a hand grenade produced by Swiss weapons manufacturer RUAG which it said had been taken in the Syrian town of Marea last month, despite the fact that Switzerland stopped arms exports to Syria in 1998.
The photograph raised concerns about the final destination of Switzerland's arms exports.
Initial findings suggested the grenade had been part of a RUAG shipment of 225,162 grenades sent to the UAE in 2003, the Swiss government said.
The Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) is therefore tentatively freezing all pending applications for arms exports to the UAE and demanding the return of licenses which have already been issued but not yet used, the Swiss government said in a statement.
The UAE government has not commented on the matter yet.
The Swiss government said it will make further inquiries because the circumstances in the case remain unclear.
"At present, there is no evidence that Swiss hand grenades have found their way to Syria. Inquiries are ongoing however," the government said.