European firms such as AugustaWestland and Eurocopter are supplying components for Chinese combat helicopters via networks of global subsidiaries and re-exporters despite the EU's 17-year old China arms embargo, NGOs have warned.
China's new Z-10 attack helicopter "would not fly" without parts from the British-Italian and Franco-German companies, a new report called "Arms Without Borders" by human rights pressure groups, including Amnesty International and Oxfam, says.
"Arms companies are global, yet arms regulations are not, and the result is the arming of abusive regimes," Oxfam director Jeremy Hobbs states in the study. "Europe and North America are fast becoming the IKEA of the arms industry."
The 50-page survey, which calls for the UN to launch a discussion in October on a new, up-to-date international arms treaty dealing with complex third-party deals, gives other examples of EU arms loopholes.
Dutch, British and Irish components turn up in Israeli Apache attack helicopters despite the EU's "Code of Conduct" on not selling arms to countries that violate UN resolutions.
The Code of Conduct is a political commitment agreed by the EU powers in 1998 and is not legally binding, unlike the China arms embargo, which was put in place following the 1999 Tiananmen Square massacre.
Armed British Land Rovers were sent "flat pack" to Turkey and re-exported to Uzbekistan before being used by Uzbek forces to machine gun protestors in the May 2005 Andijan massacre, the report goes on.
If Austrian company Glock creates a subsidiary in Brazil in line with its plans, it will be free to sell small arms around the world free of European codes, with Romanian, Bulgarian and Hungarian guns already traded in Baghdad.
"Dual-use" technology is also an area that needs to be tackled via new international agreements, the NGOs say, with items such as DVD-readers also used in guidance systems for Hellfire missiles.
Ireland exported â¬4.5 billion of dual-use technology in 2002 compared to just â¬34 million of official weapons equipment, the study reveals.
The US, Russia, France, Germany and the UK between them control 82 percent of the world's conventional arms market, while total world military spending is set to hit â¬834 billion this year - more in real terms than at the height of the Cold War in the late 1980s.
"What the world needs is an effective international arms trade treaty that will stop the flow of arms to those that commit human rights abuses," Amnesty International's secretary general, Irene Khan, stated.
- 19 Weapons Makers