Published September 10, 2015
The US military could see reason to return to a greater presence in Iceland due to “security concerns” in Europe, the Foreign Ministry has confirmed.
Speaking to DefenseNews, US Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work shared some of his thoughts about NATO – in particular, Russia and Iceland.
“The Russians have long done transit flights where they pass close by Iceland,” Work said, “but they’ve recently made several circumnavigation flights” — flying completely around the island nation. As a result, “Iceland is interested in increasing military cooperation.”
As reported, Work visited Icelandic officials last Sunday and Monday. In a statement to the press, the US Department of Defense briefly mentioned that “the deputy secretary discussed future U.S. operations at Keflavik Air Base.”
RÚV contacted the Foreign Ministry for their take on the matter. They confirmed that the US military has expressed an interest in having the possibility open of returning to Iceland, and that Iceland has the equipment in place to receive them, but emphasised that no formal talks between the two nations have started.
At the same time, Vísir reports that, according to the proposed budget for next year, just over 1 billion ISK has been allocated under the heading of “defence”. Although most of Iceland’s defence matters have been under the auspices of the Interior Ministry since 2011, the budget proposal calls for 793.1 million ISK of the defence allocations to move from the Interior Ministry to the Foreign Ministry.
“Emphasis has been placed on NATO member states increasing their payments to the common defence of the alliance, especially in light of security developments in Europe,” the proposal reasons, adding that Iceland will increase its payments to NATO by 213 million ISK.