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Norway, Citing Ethics, Pulls Investment On Weapons Makers

Oslo (AFP) Sep 02, 2005
The Norwegian government, citing ethical reasons, said on Friday it had withdrawn its investments from eight international companies involved in the production of particularly harmful weapons, such as antipersonnel mines and cluster bombs.

The country's oil fund, which collects and invests most of Norway's oil income, has pulled a total investment of 2.2 billion Norwegian kroner (283 million euros, 355 million dollars) out of Thales, the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company and its unit EADS Finance, Alliant Techsystems, General Dynamics, L3 Communications Holdings, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, the finance ministry said.

The fund, which invests in stocks and bonds, has around 150 billion euros (188 billion dollars) under management, destined to finance future pension requirements.

But Norway, which is the world's third-largest oil exporter after Saudi Arabia and Russia, has determined that the oil funds can only be invested in companies that fulfill the ethical requirements determined by the government.

These guidelines ban investments in certain types of arms producers, including companies that make chemical, biological and nuclear weapons as well as antipersonnel mines and cluster bombs.

On Tuesday, Norwatch, a non-governmental organisation that monitors the ethics of Norwegian businesses in developing countries, said the Scandinavian country had invested nearly 250 million kroner (26.9 million euros, 33.7 million dollars) in the US companies General Dynamics, Textron and Alliant Techsystems, which are accused of contributing to the development of antipersonnel mines.

Of the three, General Dynamics and Alliant are now off-limits for Norway's oil fund because of their cluster bomb components production.

Oil multinational Total is still under scrutiny because of its involvement in Burma, which is ruled by a military government.

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