Norway’s F-35 purchases: Fact or fiddle? / News / The Foreigner

Norway’s F-35 purchases: Fact or fiddle?. Norway’s purchase of F-35 fighter jets from the American Company Lockheed Martin could be an infringement of Norwegian legislation, according to the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ). Lockheed Martin produces cluster munitions, weapons banned by the International Convention on Cluster Munitions, to which Norway is a signatory. The ICJ believes Norway is not sending the right message by acquiring fighter jets from a company that produces banned weapons, and that it may also be illegal.

lockheed, martin, jsf, f-35, wikileaks, us, embassy, espen, barth, eide, kjetil, elsebutangen, cecilie, schjatvet, oil, fund, government, bjoernjacobsen



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Norway’s F-35 purchases: Fact or fiddle?

Published on Monday, 6th December, 2010 at 22:38 under the news category, by Ramona Tancau and Michael Sandelson   .

Norway’s purchase of F-35 fighter jets from the American Company Lockheed Martin could be an infringement of Norwegian legislation, according to the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ).

F-35A Prototype AA1 (JSF)
F-35A Prototype AA1 (JSF)
Photo: Senior Airman Julianne Showalter/USAF


Irrelevant

Lockheed Martin produces cluster munitions, weapons banned by the International Convention on Cluster Munitions, to which Norway is a signatory.

The ICJ believes Norway is not sending the right message by acquiring fighter jets from a company that produces banned weapons, and that it may also be illegal.

The Norwegian Penal Code stipulates, “it is illegal to assist, encourage or induce someone to take any action that is prohibited under the Convention.”

Communications Director at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (UD) Kjetil Elsebutangen believes purchasing the F-35s from Lockheed Martin does not fall within the provisions of this law, however, because “buying a different product [than banned weapons] is not in violation of the Convention,” he tells TV2.

Questionable ethics

Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin’s cluster munitions production caused the Oil Fund (Government Pension Fund – Global) to withdraw its holdings from the company, which was subsequently banned by the Ministry of Finance.

“The Oil Fund withdrew [its holdings] on ethical, not economic grounds," says ICJ lawyer Cecilie Schjatvet.

She criticises Norway for its double standards.

“It is worrisome that Norway defines itself as an advocate for the reduction of cluster munitions, but is itself helping support the production of the worst types of weapons."

The ICJ also points out that Denmark has told Lockheed Martin it will not be purchasing aircraft from them until the company ceases production of these weapons, and wonders why Norway has not.

“Norway is also in a much stronger position than Denmark to impose such requirements,” Ms Schjatvet says.

Looking after one’s own

Authorities in Norway have secured Norwegian businesses contracts worth hundreds of millions of kroner with Lockheed Martin by further cooperation with the company, which the ICJ also censures.

In October, Espen Barth Eide, State Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told Klassekampen it would be extremely difficult for the Norwegian state to be completely uninvolved with companies that make banned weapons.

There is also little indication the Foreign Ministry plans to set requirements for Lockheed Martin regarding the production of cluster munitions in relation to future contracts.

“The international ban on cluster munitions, which Norway has been at the forefront of, heavily stigmatizes the use cluster munitions. In our opinion, this is a far more efficient way of working against these types of weapons than by linking such demands to individual Norwegian," Kjetil Elsebutangen tells TV 2.

Bias?

Meanwhile, last week’s publication of US classified documents by WikiLeaks revealed Norwegian officials reassured the Americans that Norway would purchase the F-35 as their fighter jet, prior to a Parliamentary vote on the matter.

Lockheed Martin was not the only bidder, though. The initial aircraft tender also involved Swedish SAAB’s JAS Gripen and the Eurofighter.

Eurofighter withdrew prior to Christmas 2007, but company representatives did not explain why, just saying they entered the bidding because they thought they had a chance of winning the contract. 

“We would never have participated in the process if we had not believed we could win,” Eurofighter Press Office Ulrika Fager told NRK last week.

Socialist Left (SV) MP Bjørn Jacobsen, who was the Party’s representative on the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence during debates over the best offer, told Aftenposten that he believed there was no real competition in the selection process.

“My impression of this process was that this was predetermined. SV made a strategic mistake. We said we wanted a debate that was not about security policy. We thought the Swedish aircraft would win in this type of competition. However, it was security policy that decided the matter. No-one dared buy anything but American," he said.

Pass the buck

The leaked embassy documents also show the decision to purchase the F35 was the result of US pressure.

“Deciding on the Gripen will greatly alter the 40-year collaboration between our air defenses and weaken one of the strongest girders in our bilateral relationship,” quotes the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet.

State Secretary Espen Barth Eide, who was attached to the Ministry of Defense at the time, admits he gave the Americans positive signals at the time, but says what the US writes is not his concern.

“I have said that the process was genuine and that they could rely on it. I said this many times, including to the Swedes. There was considerable nervousness from the US that we would choose Swedish because we were a Red-Green government, and anxiety was just as high among Swedes that we would choose F 35 because of NATO-political considerations. What [the Americans] have written are subjective assessments and are not my problem,” he told VG.




Published on Monday, 6th December, 2010 at 22:38 under the news category, by Ramona Tancau and Michael Sandelson   .

This post has the following tags: lockheed, martin, jsf, f-35, wikileaks, us, embassy, espen, barth, eide, kjetil, elsebutangen, cecilie, schjatvet, oil, fund, government, bjoernjacobsen.





  
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