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Transport Authority Defends Weapons Shipments Through Iceland

Transport Authority Defends Weapons Shipments Through Iceland

Photos by
Almigdad Mojalli/VOA

Published March 2, 2018

The Icelandic Transport Authority has defended giving permission to Air Atlanta flights stopping over in Iceland to ship weapons to Saudi Arabia, but the Campaign Against Militarism has filed charges against the airline for breaking Icelandic law.

As reported, Air Atlanta has made 25 shipments of weapons, including landmines, from eastern Europe to Saudi Arabia via landing in Iceland over the past few years. These weapons are in turn used in conflicts in Yemen and Syria, where they are often inflicted on civilians. These shipments were not only made with the knowledge of the Icelandic government; the Icelandic Transport Authority granted permission for them.

The issue has drawn heated criticism, and the Foreign Ministry has stopped the shipments, but Icelandic Transport Authority director Þórólfur Árnason told RÚV that the shipments were entirely legal.

Þórolfur argues that Saudi Arabia is not considered “a war-torn area”, and thus allowing weapons shipments to pass through Iceland to Saudi Arabia did not violate the law. This reasoning does not hold up to scrutiny, however, and the Campaign Against Militarism (SHA) has filed charges against Air Atlanta.

SHA points out in a statement to the press Iceland’s law on goods and services that could have military purposes. The first article in this law states its purpose in part as being “to increase international security and ensure respect for human rights, in coordination with international agreements”, and that shipment permits given out that “directly defy Iceland’s international obligations” are expressly forbidden.

Amongst the international agreements broken by allowing these weapons shipments – apart from these weapons also being used on civilian targets – is the Ottawa Treaty, also known as the landmine ban, which Iceland has signed. Amongst the weapons shipped through Iceland to Saudi Arabia were 170,000 land mines.

As it stands now, any further shipments have been blocked, and both the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister have said that their regulations and practices in this area will be thoroughly reviewed.


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