Iceland's Parliament May Soon Seek Greater Control Over Militarisation Plans - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Iceland’s Parliament May Soon Seek Greater Control Over Militarisation Plans

Published September 2, 2019

Andie Fontaine
Photos by
Art Bicnick

As US military interest in Iceland grows, an MP seeks to grant Parliament more power over whether and how the NATO base in Keflavík is developed, Fréttablaðið reports.

Leftist-Green MP Kolbeinn Óttarsson Proppé intends to submit a bill which would give Iceland’s Parliament the power to decide whether and how development is conducted on the base, as it relates to foreign troops. He also intends to submit a parliamentary resolution calling for Parliament to have the power to decide if there are any troops in Iceland at all.

“This bill is designed to give Parliament more executive power over the presence of foreign troops in our country,” Kolbeinn told reporters. “Personally, I would like that presence to be zero, that Iceland leaves NATO and the defense agreement be nullified, but regardless of the personal opinions of members of Parliament, everyone should welcome this discussion, and that the role of Parliament be strong.”

As reported, the US government has designs on spending some $57 million USD on the base. This will include some $18 million USD towards upgrading the airfield’s “dangerous cargo pad”, a paved area for the loading and unloading of explosives and other hazardous cargo; $7 million USD for beddown site prep, referring to launching areas for military aircraft; and the remaining $32 million USD to expand the parking apron, the area where military aircraft are parked when not preparing for take-off.

However, numerous Icelanders have objected to these plans, as the US military presence is growing in the region, with a keen eye on Russia in the North Atlantic. Even Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir has been critical of the increased presence, having hinted at Parliament needing more of a say over such matters.

While Iceland is a NATO country, it has no standing army, and so NATO countries frequently conduct air patrol exercises in the country. At the same time, the growing US military presence in Iceland is not only beyond that purview; the Leftist-Greens, as a party, have for a long time held “Iceland out of NATO” as a core platform point.

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