Export permit Switzerland sells encrypted telephones to Iraq

Iraq received its first dual-use export package from Switzerland last year

Iraq received its first dual-use export package from Switzerland last year


The Swiss authorities authorised the sale of encryption devices to Iraq last year, which could be used for both civilian or military purposes. The CHF100 million ($98 million) order was part of CHF1.2 billion in war materiel or dual-use exports shipped out to various countries in 2016, Swiss public television SRF reports.

The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) confirmed the shipment to Iraq, stating that it had been received by an Iraqi civilian government ministry. The encrypted telephones enable secure communication systems.

Switzerland does not permit the export of war materiels to Iraq, but last year was the first time Seco has authorised the export of goods that could have both civilian and military applications, SRF reported.

Under Swiss export regulations, dual-use goods must pass less stringent restrictions than for war materiels. The exception is surveillance equipment that can be rejected for export if there is evidence of it being used for repressive purposes.

Jürgen Böhler, head of export control at Seco, told SRF that the encrypted phones did not fall into the surveillance category. He also denied that they could pose a threat if they fall into the wrong hands as the telephones can be remotely disabled.

In total, Seco approved permits for CHF1.2 billion of war materiel and dual-use exports last year, according to SRF researchexternal link. Some CHF7 billion of such goods has been exported from Switzerland in the last five years to 146 different countries.

The highest value category of goods were aircraft, including training planes and drones, worth CHF3 billion.

Between 2012 and 2016 the dual-use goods exported ranged from drone cameras to underwater sonars.

General military goods exported included protective clothing and surveillance technology.

The top destinations for all goods in the last five years were Saudi Arabia (CHF1.6 billion), China (CHF1.1 billion) and India (CHF1 billion).

swissinfo.ch/mga and SRF