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Defense News

‘No Proof’ That Arms Found In Iraq Were Austrian: Weapons Firm

By AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, VIENNA

Austrian arms manufacturer Steyr-Mannlicher insisted Feb. 13 that there was no proof that sniper rifles recently seized by U.S. troops in Iraq were the same ones it had sold amid controversy to Iran in 2004.
“We have not been contacted by the Americans. Usually one would ask us to verify the origin of a weapon through its serial number, something that is not the case here,” Franz Holzschuh, the new owner of the more than 100-year-old weapons company, told AFP.
“Our weapons are copied around the world. It’s just like with pharmaceuticals, there are lots of imitations,” he added.
Holzschuh’s comments came in response to a report in British newspaper The Daily Telegraph on Feb. 13 claiming that U.S. troops had found more than a hundred Steyr-Mannlicher sniper rifles during a Baghdad raid on insurgents The paper reported that the 50 caliber rifles, which are capable of penetrating body armor, were part of a shipment of 800 rifles exported by Steyr-Mannlicher to Iran in 2004.
Holzschuh however pointed out that the license for its HS50 rifles had “expired a long time ago,” making them easy to copy.
The company had received all the necessary permits from the Austrian ministries for the interior and foreign affairs for its rifle delivery to Iran, despite Washington’s attempts to stop the deal from going through, Holzschuh insisted.
Britain and the United States had condemned the sale when it originally happened because of their fears that the weapons, which the National Iranian Police Organisation said it was buying to use against drug smugglers, would find their way to insurgents in Iraq.
“Although we did make our worries known the sale unfortunately went ahead, and now the potential that these weapons could fall into the wrong hands appears to have happened,” a spokesman for the British foreign ministry was quoted as saying by the Telegraph.
The Austrian foreign ministry meanwhile said it could not confirm whether the weapons found were the Steyr-Mannlicher rifles sold to Iran.
“We have not been contacted neither by the Americans nor by the British” to verify the serial numbers, foreign ministry spokeswoman Astrid Harz told AFP.
“The contract in question was scrupulously examined by the foreign ministry in light of the situation at the time between the autumn of 2003 and the autumn of 2004,” Harz said.
The foreign ministry eventually provided the necessary permits for the deal, but Harz pointed out that given the different circumstances in the region now Steyr-Mannlicher would not have been permitted to go through with the deal today.
The Daily Telegraph report came days after top U.S. defense officials said that sophisticated Iranian-built bombs smuggled into Iraq have killed at least 170 U.S. and allied soldiers since June 2004 and wounded 620 more.
According to The Daily Telegraph, within 45 days of the HS50 Steyr-Mannlicher rifles arriving in Iran, a U.S. soldier in an armored vehicle was killed by an Iraqi insurgent using one of the weapons.
The U.S. government decided in 2005 to block all shipments of arms from the Austrian company to American authorities, but the embargo is due to expire next December 27, according to Holzschuh.
 

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Mr. A,

Thanks for staying on top of this issue. The above is the first new article I've seen on it since the Telegraph's.

If we're waiting on the Telegraph to run a correction, or even better, to admit they ran with an unattributed source article that turned out to have not one scintilla of proof behind it, we'll probably be waiting until hell freezes over, to quote one of my favorite liberals, the late Adlai Stevenson.

He was waiting at the U.N. on Khrushchev to explain why they had missiles in Cuba and he never got an answer.

I strongly suspect if there is any proof, it would have surfaced by now. But the mud has been slung and Steyr has been hit and even if the Telegraph admits they were wrong now, the bad publicity bell cannot be unrung.

I'm glad to see our new owner is already moving forward with new rifles and of course, with the promised new versions of pistols, in particular the large-frame in 10mm, .45 ACP and dare we dream, the Wulf 357 UltiMag?

As loyal Steyroids, about all we can do with this BS with Iran smuggling sniper rifles into Iraq is just to wait patiently until hell freezes over and maybe one of these days the proof will emerge that will exonerate Steyr.
 

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I wouldn't be shocked if a few HS50s did find their way into Iraq from Iran in the same manner that P-90s from Saudi Arabia have found there way there or MP44s from Syria or the in the manner in which M-16s have found their way into the hands of folks in Hamas. A lot of rifles in third world companies go in the front door and are sold out the back by corrupt officials.

The fact that the Daily Telegraph was claiming that hundreds of these rifles were confiscated sent off alarm bells to me since only 800 of them were ever purchased by Iran.

More than likely the bulk if not all of the rifles were cloned from the original batch that Iran purchased from Steyr. Iran has already been cloning old HK91s and other foreign firearms they purchased long ago for some time now.

However, some folks just want to burn Steyr at the stake for ever selling to Iran in the first place, but hey if isn't a Steyr .50 caliber that shoots at you it will be a Croatian or other 50 caliber rifle that will do it. The nature of war in the modern age is that there are more than enough firearms to go around.
 

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Hiya minister* :)

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Quote:
STEYR MANNLICHER is mainly producing weapons for hunting.



So why is that something Steyr feels it needs to point out?
...uh...cause its true? Check the Steyr-Mannlicher production figures and this should support the statement. <shrug> Just a thought.

Wulf
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Statement regarding weapons found in Iraq

1. The export of 800 STEYR MANNLICHER guns back in 2004/05 to Iran as a country not at war had been approved by the Austrian authorities in accordance with the legal requirements. STEYR MANNLICHER has – just as with all other exports – fully obliged to the conditions of the Austrian authorities.

2. STEYR MANNLICHER is mainly producing weapons for hunting. The company also supplies public authorities. STEYR MANNLICHER exclusively supplies governments, i.e. government units such as antiterror units. The delivery of 800 weapons to Iran was with an end-user certificate to the Iranian police forces for use in combating drug trafficking.

3. The serial numbers of the guns found in Iraq have so far not been forwarded to the producer for identification. In order to find out whether the weapons have been produced by STEYR MANNLICHER the production/serial numbers need to be checked. Only then will it be possible to clarify whether these are products originated in Austria.

4. Since the international license for these guns has already expired, these weapons can be copied any time by other producers.


STEYR MANNLICHER points out that STEYR MANNLICHER itself is interested in complete clarification of the origin of these guns and has offered the US authorities full cooperation
 

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Wulf said:
Hiya minister* :)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Quote:
STEYR MANNLICHER is mainly producing weapons for hunting.



So why is that something Steyr feels it needs to point out?
...uh...cause its true? Check the Steyr-Mannlicher production figures and this should support the statement. <shrug> Just a thought.

Wulf
I know it is true Wulf...what I am saying is why is it relevant to the discussion of arms in Iran?
 

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Wow, all those asses making irrational comments from a "reliable single source" now can recant their comments and come back to the darkside of Steyr?
 

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MAN, this whole story sure went away fast.

I haven't seen a single word on this from any other source outside the Daily Telegraph (DT) and the AP that ran with that DT article.

They should print a retraction and apolgize to Steyr Mannlicher for going ahead with a story without being able to back it up.
 
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