In response to recent news that weapons bound for Saudi Arabia have been transported through Iceland some 25 times, the power to grant flight permits through Iceland will be moved from the Transport Authority to the Foreign Ministry.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson told RÚV that changes to government work practices will include “that it is clear that we are following international law, and that it is clear we are doing that to the best of our ability”.
As Iceland has harshly criticised Saudi Arabia for human rights abuses in the past, Guðlaugur considers it important that “there is harmony between what we say and what we do”.
As reported, investigative news show Kveikur has brought to light that over the past few years, Air Atlanta has been flying weapons from eastern Europe to Saudi Arabia through Iceland, where the shipments have been rubber stamped for passage.
As has been widely reported, numerous civilians in Yemen have been killed in an ongoing war between that country and Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has also been using the weapons in Syria, bringing with it untold civilian casualties.
The weapons passing through Iceland, with the blessing of its government, include some 170,000 land mines. This is especially troubling as while Saudi Arabia is not a signatory country of the Ottawa Treaty, which bans the use of landmines, Iceland is.
The revelation drew heated criticism, from the general public and within government, and though the Transport Authority has defended the practice, the Campaign Against Militarism has filed charges against them for breaking Icelandic law.