The 250 MP5 submachine guns delivered to the Icelandic Coast Guard will be returned to the Norwegian Armed Forces, as announced by the Coast Guard on Friday.
Officials in Iceland had initially claimed that the guns, or most of the guns, were presented to Iceland from Norway as a gift. However, Colonel Dag Aamoth, press spokesman for 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).
The revelation that Iceland received submachine guns from Norway has caused widespread debate in Iceland over recent weeks. It has been reported that submachine guns will be kept in police cars—general officers in Iceland have until now been unarmed. Part of the guns was supposed to be kept on Icelandic Coast Guard cruisers.
In its statement, the Icelandic Coast Guard says that it has not had to pay for weapons it has received from Norway and other neighboring countries in the past years and decades. Ninety percent of the Icelandic Coast Guard’s weapons are weapons which were no longer being used by neighboring countries and were given as gifts to Iceland.
In 2013, Iceland received ten weapons as a gift from the Norwegians and it had been assumed that the additional weapons would also be a gift.
The Icelandic Coast Guard states that it is important to regularly renew its weapons and technical equipment but that due to a shortage of funding there is often a long time in between renewal. The statement also says that as a peaceful country weapons are fortunately not the Coast Guard’s most important equipment and that it has not fired a single shot in the 40 years since the Cod Wars.
Purchasing new weapons is not considered a priority, it states. Instead, renewing the search and rescue helicopter and improving the operating conditions of its vessels is considered urgent and it had not been previously considered that part of the Coast Guard’s funding would have to go to buying weapons.
The guns had not yet been cleared by customs and remained sealed in the storage of the Icelandic Coast Guard at Keflavík International Airport while discussions were ongoing.