According to arms control campaigners, the Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifle is the world's favorite killing machine, and it will remain so for at least 20 years. DW-WORLD.DE spoke to its inventor.
AK-47 inventor Mikhail Kalashnikov is an outspoken critic of illegal small-arms trade
Up to 100 million AK-47s and variations of its design are in circulation around the world, including in the state arsenal of at least 82 countries, according to a report published by the Control Arms Campaign on Monday.
Ak-47s are used to "massacre, maim, rape and abuse, torture, and fuel violent crime in countries as diverse as Afghanistan, Britain, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Mexico, Sierra Leone, the US, Venezuela and Yemen," the report added. Produced in at least 14 countries across four continents, the AK-47, which can be fired at a rate of 600 bullets per minute, can be bought for as little as 30 dollars in parts of Africa.
Cheap and efficient Kalashnikov assault rifles are popular in crisis regions around the world
The report was released just as a two-week UN conference got under way in New York on Monday to review efforts to stem the illegal trade in small arms and light weapons.
The Control Arms Campaign -- a joint initiative by Amnesty International, Oxfam International and the International Action Network on Small Arms -- urges governments to adopt tough global standards on transfers of small arms and light weapons, control license production, and secure existing stockpiles.
Inventor stands up for small arms control
The AK-47 -- "Avtomat Kalashnikova" -- won a Soviet Union competition in 1947 to find the ultimate submachine gun for the Red Army. It was invented by Russian Lieutenant-General Mikhail Kalashnikov, who was at the time recovering from injuries suffered during fighting in World War II.
Mikhail Kalashnikov will speak at the UN conference on small arms trade in New York
Today, Kalashnikov -- who has been heading his own weapon construction company since 1955 -- is pleading for strict international regulation of the small arms trade.
"Because of the lack of international control over arms sales, small arms easily find their way to anywhere in the world to be used not only for national defense but by aggressors, terrorists and all kinds of criminals," Kalashnikov is quoted in the Control Arms Campaign report.
DW-WORLD.DE had a chance to speak briefly to the inventor.
DW-WORLD.DE: Why are researchers being so critical of the AK-47 as opposed to other automatic rifles?
Probably because the AK-47 is so widely spread -- there are millions of them. My answers to Oxfam and my speech at the UN conference on June 28 is not about limiting the production and sales of the AK, but rather about establishing international control by adopting an agreement on combating illegal distribution of small arms and light weapons.
What are the perspectives of developing modern assault weapons? Should we believe what we see in sci-fi movies about electronic weapons?
The perspectives depend on the characteristics of future ammunition, but our company is not involved with its development, or electronic weapons.
What do you think about non-lethal weapons? How likely is it that it will be employed in the future? Did you ever think about developing such weapons?
Some kinds of non-lethal weapons are produced and sold for self-defense purposes. If they can protect people from criminals and thieves, that's a blessing. But the same kind of weapon can be used with opposite intentions in the hands of bandits and robbers… I don't work on such models.