Iceland has signed a defence agreement with other Nordic countries, but concerns have been raised about the growing presence of the US military in the country.
The agreement, “Nordic Defence Cooperation Vision 2025”, was signed on November 13 by Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Iceland. The agreement is meant to “supplement and add to the value of” existing military agreements with the UN, NATO and the EU.
“We will improve our defence capability and cooperation in peace, crisis and conflict,” the statement reads in part. “We ensure a close Nordic political and military dialogue on security and defence. Acknowledging our different security affiliations, we pursue an agenda based on joint security perspectives, efficient and cost-effective cooperation to strengthen our national defences and the ability to act together.”
While the agreement itself has been criticised as superfluous, Left-Green MP Andrés Ingi Jónsson raised concerns about the increased US military presence in Iceland.
The matter was first brought to light by US military media outlet Stars & Stripes, who reported in February 2016 that “Navy now routinely sends P-3’s to Keflavik from its air base in Sicily to patrol for Russian subs in the North Atlantic,” an official from the Navy was quoted as saying, while adding:
“For now, the Navy is only interested in deploying maritime patrol aircraft for short durations, the official said. The Navy could eventually create a permanent patrol mission at the base, the official said, which would likely resemble the Navy’s maritime patrol force at its air base in Sigonella, Sicily, where squadrons rotate out every six months.”
In point of fact, the US military presence has been growing. As Kvennablaðið points out, both the number of soldiers and the number of air patrols increased significantly between 2016 and 2017.
“In light of these facts, we should remember that we are about to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Iceland’s sovereignty,” Andrés writes. “How sovereign are we if a foreign country can open a military base here without any discussion on the matter? Is the selling out of our sovereignty through a defence agreement and participation in NATO really so necessary that we do not need to discuss initiating a defence force in this country?”