A recent article published by “Weekly Blitz” has suggested that Israel is set to become South Korea’s main arms supplier. As you may find from reading the article, the last 2 years has seen a staggering amount of almost $400 million USD worth of military acquisitions made by South Korea, in Israel. On top of that, there are still large deals to be approved between the two countries.
A list of recent purchases can be seen here:
-Airborne electronic warfare suites for its CN-235 transports US$ 11 million (IAI)
-Integrated electronic warfare suites for South Korea’s fleet of Lockheed Martin C-130H tactical transports $25 million (Elisra)
-Early warning equipment for four prototype Korea Aerospace Industries F/A-50 strike aircraft, including advanced radar warning receiver as well as chaff and flare dispensers. US$7 million (Elisra)
-EL/M 2032 Multimode Fire Control Radar system for the ROK’s FA/TA-50 training jet. US$ 280 million (IAI)
-Currently, Elta, Elisra and Elbit are working on a project to modify the South Korean made T-50 Golden Eagle, from a trainer to an Assault Aircraft. According to the article:
“The IAI’s Elta produces the radar for the plane’s assault version; Elisra produces its electronic warfare system, and Elbit – some of the avionics systems.”
The Israeli Airforce actually has plans to purchase Korea’s T-50 “Golden Eagle”. Read about it here!
Recently, the BNC (a coalition of Palestinian Trade Unions, Civil Society Groups and NGOs) called for an immediate and comprehensive military embargo on Israel. The embargo would include an embargo on importing Israel military equipment.
The stated aims of the BNC are to push Israel towards:
1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands (1967) and dismantling the Wall;
2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.
However, whatever one’s views are on the broader political and human rights issues, brought up by the BNC (for the record we can’t see why anyone wouldn’t support them), there is also a clear issue of corporate ethics, due to the nature of the companies that South Korea has chosen to do business with.
The character of the companies mentioned in the article ( Elta being a wholly owned subsidiary of IAI , and Elisra a wholly owned subsidiary of Elbit.) can be examined by looking at the 2 ‘Mother Companies’, IAI and Elbit.)
-Supplies Drones, fighter jets and missiles. IAI’s products are clearly implicated in 2008-2009 Assault on Gaza or “Operation Cast Lead,” in which some 1,400 Gazans were killed (including some 300 children). Human Rights Watch reported that during the assult 29 civilians, alone, were unlawfully killed by drones.
-Provides Surveillance Equipment for the “Apartheid Wall”. The Wall, commonly and misleadingly referred to as the West Bank “Barrier”, has been condemned by the International Court of Justice as being illegal. The ICJ, in 2004, called on Israel to dismantle the wall. Israel and has ignored this and continued on with the construction of the wall. Read more here.
-Like IAI, Elbit produces Drones which have been used to kill Palestinian Civilians.
-Elbit provides “Intrusion Detection Systems” for use on the Apartheid wall. The company also provides surveillance equipment for the Ariel Settlement. Israeli Settlements have been deemed illegal by the ICJ due to the fact that they violate Article 49.6 of the 4th Geneva Convention, which prohibits the transfer of an occupying power’s own civilian population into the territory that power occupies.
-In 2009 Elbit was dropped by Norway’s Pension fund, due to its involvement in the Occupied Territories. The Norweigan Government cited ethical concerns, with the finance Minister saying:
“We do not wish to fund companies that so directly contribute to violations of international humanitarian law.”
What does the Future Hold?
South Korea and Israel are moving ever closer. A Free Trade Agreement under consideration, the two countries also seek to strenghten Cooperation in the feild of Scientific Research (this issue will be addressed in a later post).
According to the article, Kwon Oh-bong (the vice commissioner of the Defense Acquisition Program Administration) said,
“The South Korean defense budget stands at US $30 billion, and the military acquisition budget stands at US$ 10 billion and grows as time goes by on the backdrop of the situation. In the past few years we have purchased in Israel the Green Pine radar and the Harpy UAV. The United States has been our main arms supplier for years, but in recent years Israel has become a key acquisition source together with European countries.”
Further military trade between the two countries would not only put South Korea at odds with Palestinian Civil Society’s call for International Support, but would also see a great proportion of South Korea’s military budget being pumped directly into companies like Elbit and IAI.