From Jonathan Marcus BBC: The UK government has approved more than 3,000 export licences for military sales to countries which it believes have questionable records on human rights, MPs say.
The House of Commons Committees on Arms Export Controls says the value of the existing export licences to the 27 countries in question exceeds £12bn.
This includes significant sales to China, Iran and Saudi Arabia. . . .
There were, for example, more than 60 licences for Iran, including components for military electronics and what is described as "equipment employing cryptography".
This appears to be a catch-all term which encompasses a variety of equipment, much of it in the telecommunications sector.
Similar equipment figured prominently in China’s £1.4bn worth of licences, which also included some small arms ammunition, even though there is a European Union arms embargo on Beijing. . . .
"Cryptography" is a term that appears frequently in the arms licensing data. . . .
A Department for Business, Innovation and Skills spokeswoman said cryptography was "a means of ensuring information security, ie preventing unauthorised access to data".
There was, she explained, "a huge range of commercial applications that use cryptography, from public mobile telephony, online shopping and banking, through to providing secure networks for businesses and governments. Commercial applications account for the vast majority of licences under the cryptography category."
These commercial applications, she stressed did "not raise any concerns with respect to internal repression or conflict." (graphic: John Bradley/Independent)