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Minister: No Security Risk in Publishing Weapon Data

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Minister: No Security Risk in Publishing Weapon Data

Alþingi, Iceland's parliament

Alþingi, the Icelandic parliament. Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

Interior Minister Ólöf Nordal says that publishing Iceland’s regulations on weaponry poses no risk to national security. Ólöf told ruv.is that she decided to make the information public and sees nothing in the regulations which calls for their secrecy.

The regulations on the weaponry and its usage by the police and Coast Guard were made public earlier this month. National broadcaster RÚV sent a detailed inquiry about weapons issues and requested to see the regulations. Secrecy had surrounded the rules in the past.

Ólöf said that the National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police and the Director of the Icelandic Coast Guard agreed with her that there was nothing in the regulations that required them to be secret.

Access to the rules has been discussed by the information issues complaints board on two previous occasions, in 2002 and 2014. On both occasions, the board confirmed the ministry’s refusal to provide the rules. The board stated that the ministry and police commissioner reasoned that the state had an obligation to limit access to the rules due national security. Ólöf however said that there is nothing to suggest that her predecessors did not want the rules made public. “I actually don’t know whether this was at the beginning a conscious decision, I just don’t know,” she said.

Issues concerning weapons in Iceland have been widely debated in recent months after it was revealed last year that 250 MP5 submachine guns had been sent to the Icelandic Coast Guard from the Norwegian Armed Forces.

Officials in Iceland had initially claimed that the guns, or most of the guns, were presented to Iceland from Norway as a gift. However, the Norwegian Armed Forces released a statement saying that they had sold the Icelandic Coast Guard 250 submachine guns for NOK 625,000 (ISK 11.5 million, USD 94,000, EUR 75,000). Iceland subsequently decided to return the guns.

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