The MP5 submachine guns Iceland received from Norway will be sent back, the Icelandic Coast Guard has announced.
According to the announcement, posted today on the Coast Guard’s website, the conclusion of talks with the Norwegian army yesterday and today led to the decision to return the guns, which have been held by toll authorities over the past few weeks. Customs officials held onto the guns on account of a dispute over whether the guns were a gift or a purchase.
The Icelandic Coast Guard contends that “almost all the weapons in possession of the Icelandic Coast Guard (90%) have been gifts from neighbouring countries who have taken them out of use. It was assumed that this was the case on this occasion as well.”
In point of fact, Norwegian authorities have publicly asserted from the start that the weapons were bought, with a purchase agreement amounting to 11.5 million ISK signed between Icelandic authorities and the Norwegian army last December.
“It is in some ways our good fortune as a peaceful nation that guns are not the most essential item related to our work,” the Coast Guard says. “Actually, the Coast Guard has not fired a shot in connection with our work in four decades, or during the Cod Wars.”
The initial news of the guns coming to Iceland sparked protest from Icelanders, who found out about the weapons purchase despite the insistence of the Icelandic Coast Guard that the arms deal be kept a secret. The story was initially broken by DV, who have today been bought out by Björn Ingi Hrafnsson, who was once a member of Reykjavík City Council for the Progressive Party.