Bjørnar Moxnes, leader of Rødt and representative in the Storting’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, reacts strongly to Dagbladet’s revelations of a hitherto unknown agreement that is being prepared between Norway and the United States.
– It is a scandal if the government in secret tries to undermine the adopted, Norwegian policy on who should be allowed to buy Norwegian weapons, Moxnes says to Dagbladet.
The agreement gives the United States the opportunity to sell Norwegian-made weapons under the American flag. Thus, Norwegian weapons can be sold to Saudi Arabia and other countries that are major customers of the United States, but to which Norway does not export due to allegations of war crimes and human rights violations.
Although the Ministry of Defense above Dagbladet says that Norwegian export regulations must be followed, it says something else in an agreement Dagbladet has been given access to:
An agreement between the Norwegian weapons manufacturer Kongsberg Defense & Aerospace, and their partner Raytheon in the USA, states that Kongsberg missiles can be sold by Raytheon according to Norwegian “and / or” American regulations.
– It has been democratically fought for decades that Norwegian weapons should not end up with states that violate human rights or wage war in violation of international law in other countries, such as Saudi Arabia. Storting decisions cannot be overruled by a minister in the back room, says Moxnes.
Alerts full dishes
Rødt is now sending a written question to Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt, demanding an answer about the scheme.
– It appears from Dagbladet’s case that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs either do not want or can not answer whether Norway’s export restrictions will apply in full and how Norway will enforce them in that case. Rødt will demand an answer from the Minister of Foreign Affairs to the Storting, where she is obliged to answer, says Moxnes.
He points out:
– The Minister of Foreign Affairs recently presented report to the Storting on the government’s export control and non-proliferation work. That the government will facilitate resale from the United States is not mentioned in a word. Rødt’s elected representatives do not appreciate being led behind the light, and there will be full dishes when we process the message.
Dagbladet has contacted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs about the case. State Secretary Eivind Vad Petersson responds to the criticism from Moxnes as follows:
– The Ministry of Foreign Affairs processes all applications for the export of defense equipment. We follow strong regulations, Petersson writes via the press service.
– Due to the strict and statutory duty of confidentiality, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs cannot comment on specific matters concerning the export of strategic goods, services and technology. On 3 June, the government presented the Storting’s report on exports of defense materiel from Norway in 2021. The report contains both comprehensive statistics for exports in 2021 and a thorough account of the practice of the regulations on license applications for exports of defense materiel, says Petersson.
– Very worrying
Moxnes receives support from MDG deputy leader Ingrid Liland.
– It is very worrying that the government apparently now wants to enable arms sales to third countries via the USA, without the strict guidelines we should have for Norwegian arms exports. I wonder why they think this is a good idea, she says to Dagbladet.
– Is it the case that you are willing to send weapons to the wrong hands to earn a little more money? We must ensure that Norwegian arms exports are subject to strict guidelines that do not prevent Norwegian weapons from ending up in countries that commit serious human rights violations, such as Saudi Arabia.
This applies to direct as well as indirect sales, via countries to which Norway sells, emphasizes the MDG deputy manager.
– There are a lot of weapons in circulation in the world, and there is something we need in changes to guidelines, then there is a stronger export regulations where the chance of weapons ending up in the wrong hands, whether it is states, groups or individuals, is as low as possible.
Liland warns that weapons sold to “junk and unsafe countries” are more likely to end up in the hands of “terrorists and other groups we do not want to have weapons”.
– The government is now playing a high stakes game where the consequences can be large and negative abroad, and MDG will follow up this case to get all the cards on the table.
This is how they respond
Both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have previously commented on the agreement in Dagbladet’s cases.
Birgitte Frisch, special adviser in the communications unit at the Ministry of Defense, would not comment on agreements between Kongsberg and Raytheon.
– The Ministry of Defense does not comment on the relationship between Raytheon and KDA or matters concerning exports, she writes in an e-mail.
However, she has confirmed that it is relevant to sell Norwegian equipment through the American system Foreign Military Sale. However, she says that everything should be in line with Norwegian regulations – but claims that Norwegian export rules should not be circumvented.
– It is of course not correct that the Ministry of Defense together with the US designer and arrangements for how the export control regulations can be circumvented. However, the Ministry of Defense has developed a practice for how sensitive Norwegian-developed defense technology can be protected.
– You do not dispute that the USA should not be able to sell Norwegian equipment as American, but you think this is in line with the export control regulations?
– We refer to the answers we have given, Frisch answers.
Duty of confidentiality
Ragnhild Håland Simensen, communications adviser at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, wrote in an e-mail that they refer to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
– From the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we can add that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is responsible for export control. Due to the strict and statutory duty of confidentiality, we can not comment on specific cases concerning control of the export of defense equipment.
Ronny Lie, communications director of the Kongsberg Group, replied:
– The issue of exporting defense equipment is a security and government issue that the Norwegian authorities comment on. We follow the current export regulations to the letter. In close cooperation with the Norwegian authorities, we are developing defense systems that must ensure Norwegian security and sovereignty.