Oman bought Norwegian weapons for NOK 1 billion in 2017
Norway exported weapons worth NOK 3.4 billion in 2017, almost 1.5 billion more than the year before. Oman alone was responsible for 1 billion worth of exports.
The previous peak year for Norwegian arms exports was in 2009 when the export value was NOK 3.1 billion. Statistics Norway (Statistisk sentralbyrå) reports today.
The basis for the analysis is based on customs export declarations and includes military weapons, except for warships and combat aircraft.
Just over half of exports are to NATO countries, but a big deal that Oman made with Kongsberg in 2014, came to frutition last year. The small country with about 4 million inhabitants is building up an extensive air defense, and in this context Norwegian deliveries make up a significant share of a US contract totaling USD 2 billion
– Oman is thus the largest importer of Norwegian weapons in 2017 among all countries, 357 million more than the US, which has been the largest market for Norwegian arms exports in recent years, says Statistics Norway.
Biggest contract in history
It is the NASAMS (Norwegian Advanced Surface to Air Missile System), which Kongsberg manufactures, which is part of the air defense system Oman is now building up.
– This agreement with Oman is the largest single contract in Kongsberg’s history and underlines the position of NASAMS internationally, CEO of the Kongsberg Group, Walter Qvam told Aftenposten when the contract was signed in 2014.
In the semi-annual report of Norwegian diplomats in the region last July, the contract alone represents a doubling of Norwegian exports to Oman. In 2016, total Norwegian exports to the country were NOK 83 million.
Other countries in the area that purchase Norwegian weapons are the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which reduced their imports by 10 million to NOK 68 million in 2017.
Although Oman is not one of the warring parties in neighbouring Yemen, the country is a sultanate ruled by Sultan Qaboos since 1970. Several react to the fact that Norway sells weapons to an authoritarian regime that repeatedly has been criticized for violations of human rights.
– It is creepy to develop an industry where we are constantly pushing the limits of what is ethically acceptable. We are already exporting defense materials to the warring parties in Yemen, to the military dictatorship in Thailand, and now we see a huge increase in sales to the authoritarian country of Oman, says Head of Changemaker, Tuva Krogh Widskjold, to NTB.
Also spokesman for the Green Party, Rasmus Hansson, criticizes the sale and believes it is a clear violation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ arms export rules.
– This is an oppressive dictatorship that does not respect basic human rights, quite simply steted. This is a massive export deal that is not about a few nuts and bolts. Those are weapons. Although the weapons are defensive, there is no doubt that they strengthen the military capacity of a very undemocratic and oppressive regime, Hansson tells Aftenposten.
USA is the largest
There are many different ways to measure weapons exports. Numbers from Statistics Norway include ordinary sales from Norwegian exporters to other countries. Equipment delivered as a result of military agreements are not declared to customs, and thus are exempt from the official statistics.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs maintains a separate statistics that also includes service and repair. With these product groups included, exports of defense materials ended in 2016 at just over NOK 4.8 billion, according to the parliaments report on arms exports.
The United States is the largest recipient among NATO countries, and imported in 2017 Norwegian weapons worth USD 655 million. Poland is also a major importer of Norwegian weapons and traded for NOK 382 million in 2017. Poland has even signed an agreement to purchase NASAMS from Kongsberg.
© NTB Scanpix / Norway Today