The U.S. government is opposing Korea’s bid to sell thousands of aging U.S. combat rifles to American gun collectors.
By Jung Sung-ki
The U.S. government opposed South Korea’s bid to sell hundreds of thousands of aging U.S. combat rifles to American gun collectors, a senior government official said Thursday.
The ministry announced the plan last September as part of efforts to boost its defense budget, saying the export of the M1 Garand and carbine rifles would start by the end of 2009.
The U.S. administration put the brakes on the plan, citing “problems” that could be caused by the importation of the rifles.
The problems the U.S. government cited were somewhat ambiguous, said an official at the Ministry of National Defense on condition of anonymity.
“The U.S. insisted that imports of the aging rifles could cause problems such as firearm accidents. It was also worried the weapons could be smuggled to terrorists, gangs or other people with bad intentions,” the official told The Korea Times.
“We’re still looking into the reason why the U.S. administration is objecting to the sale of the rifles and seeking ways to resolve the problems raised,” he said.
Critics say the ministry pushed to sell the firearms in a hasty manner without enough consultation with the U.S. beforehand, as calls were growing to increase defense expenditure.
The Seoul government sought to sell the outdated U.S guns back to the United States.
A total of 86,000 M1 rifles and another 22,000 carbines were to be sold, as the weapons have been mothballed for about five decades in military warehouses. The per-unit price of the M1 rifle is about $220 and the carbine is more than $140, according to the ministry.
M1s were made first in 1926 and used in World War II and the 1954-1975 Vietnam War. The carbines were first produced in 1941 and used during the 1950-1953 Korean War.
[단독] 미국, 한국 M1/카빈 소총 역수출 반대
미 정부가 한국이 수십만 개의 구식 미제 소총을 미국 총 수집가 들에게 판매하는 계획을 반대한 것으로 확인됐다.
국방부는 작년 9월 국방예산 확보 일환으로 M1 소총과 카빈 소총을 미국에 역수출할 계획을 발표했다. 하지만 미 정부는 총들을 수입하면서 발생할 “문제들”을 거론하며 반대했다고 국방부 고위 소식통은 전했다. 하지만 미 정부가 거론한 문제들은 애매모호하다는 입장이다.
국방부 관계자는 “미국은 총기들이 테러집단이나 조폭들에게 악용될 문제점을 우려했다”며 “현재 계속 미국의 진의를 파악 중이며 문제점들을 보완할 방안을 고안하고 있다" 라고 말했다.
한국 정부는 과거의 미국 소총을 다시 미국에 팔 계획이다. 총 86,000정의 M1 소총과 22,000 정의 카빈이 팔릴 예정이었다. M1 1정당 $220 (약 25만원) 카빈 1정당 $140 (약 16만원) 정도에 팔 예정이었다.