Norway, citing crisis in Yemen, suspends arms shipments to U.A.E.
Norway chapter of aid group praises decision, calls on other countries to follow suit
Norway said Wednesday it has suspended exports of munitions and arms to the United Arab Emirates as a "precautionary line," based on its assessment of the situation in Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition including the UAE has been fighting Shia rebels for nearly three years.
Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soreide said she has "no information" that any of Norway's military exports have been used in Yemen, but that there's "great concern" over the humanitarian crisis there.
The Emirati government offered no immediate comment on Norway's decision.
The U.S.-backed coalition and an internationally recognized government have been at war with the rebels, known as Houthis, since March 2015. The coalition has made little progress amid a bloody stalemate, with the Iran-allied rebels still in firm control of the capital, Sanaa, and much of the north.
The fighting has killed more than 10,000 people, displaced three million and fuelled a cholera epidemic in the Arab world's poorest country.
On Tuesday, Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang published a video by the Yemeni rebels, known as Houthis, in which they claim to have seized "a U.S. spy submarine."
The Norwegian newspaper said it was a Remus 600 Autonomous Underwater Vehicle made by Norway's Kongsberg group. There was no comment from Kongsberg or from the Saudi-led coalition. It was also not clear when the sub was purportedly seized.
Eriksen Soreide said Norway has allowed the sale of weapons and ammunition to the UAE since 2010. The decision to suspend sales for so-called A-material — munitions and arms— was made Dec. 19 and announced on Wednesday.
Norwegian news agency NTB said Norway's exports of weapons, munitions and other military equipment to the UAE were worth more than 100 million kroner ($20.2 million Cdn) in 2016.
Line Hegna, of Norway's chapter of the international aid group Save the Children, said the decision was "important and the right thing to do."
"The decision taken by the Norwegian government can act as an example for other exporting nations to act responsibly in the face of repeated violations of international humanitarian law," she said in a statement to The Associated Press.