Icelandic government official hits back at US over whaling controversy

Icelandic Finance Minister Bjarni Benediktsson has hit back at the US’s criticism of his country’s whaling by claiming it had no right to comment when it, to this day, still executes people.

Bjarni Benediktsson pointed out that the US was in no position to try and take the moral high ground when capital punishment remained in a number of states and innocent victims were still being sentenced to death.

The minister posted his remarks on Facebook after the news that the US State Department had opted against inviting the North Atlantic nation to the Our Ocean international summit because of the country’s refusal to abolish its minke whale hunt. The US had already spoken of its disapproval of Iceland’s decision to continue whaling and has threatened sanctions.

Barack Obama has been among the key figures that have urged Iceland, which exports a high proportion of its fish to North America, to change its policy. However, Bjarni Benediktsson has told the US to take a strong look at itself before commenting on his country’s policies. He pointed out that the US had recently begun a new experimental policy on deep sea explosions, which he said was having a major effect on sea life, including whales.

The minister went on to say that the Americans are somewhat “crooked” in the way they criticise and threaten sanctions against Iceland because of its whaling but, at the same time, execute innocent people after wrongly finding them guilty of committing crimes. He then referred to the botched execution of a murderer in Oklahoma, asking who holds the moral high ground and which country should actually be breaking ties with the other.