Citation(s) from the Gun Policy News media archive

A Deal Under Suspicion

For U.S., gun sales are good business

New York Times

6 June 1998

Relevant contents

The Solomon Islands, a tiny country in the Pacific with 400,000 people, has no army and a police force of barely a thousand (including traffic patrols). But last summer the Government purchased enough equipment to outfit a small combat unit — assault rifles, machine guns, helmets and boots, and two small airplanes — from an American company.

At the Pentagon and the United States Customs Service, officials expressed misgivings about the sale, fearing the weapons were destined for rebels in nearby Papua New Guinea. Others argued that it would be better for the Solomon Islands to invest in health and education. Australia and New Zealand opposed the deal, saying it was irresponsible to bring more weapons into the region.

But the State Department agreed the arms were needed by the police and issued the necessary licenses.

Since then a newly elected Government in the Solomon Islands, suspicious about the motives for the arms deal, has opened an investigation and tried to cancel it…

While the State Department has defended the Solomon Islands shipment because the weapons "would be used by the Royal Solomon Islands Police," the new government there does not think so. It asked the New Zealand Government to seize one of the ships carrying the weapons, and the arms are now being held in New Zealand while the Solomon Islands Government searches for a buyer.

ID: N56

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