The Icelandic government has authorized the US military to allow nuclear-powered submarines to make a short stop off the coast of Iceland to receive supplies and replace crew. The Icelandic Radiation Safety Authority does not see this as a particular concern.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs has sent a message to the US government informing them that the US Navy's nuclear-powered submarines will be allowed to make a short stop at the coast of Iceland. They may receive goods and exchange crews, but not come to port.
According to the Government of Iceland's website, the first submarine is expected in the next few days. The visits are supposed to contribute to the active submarine surveillance of the NATO allies "which ensures better situational awareness and increases the safety of underwater infrastructure such as submarine cables in the waters around Iceland." The number of visits is determined by the need in each case.
The announcement also states that both the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Prime Minister emphasized that Icelandic territorial waters are protected from nuclear weapons. The position was confirmed in the message to the US government. "The submarines that are authorized to stay here do not carry nuclear weapons according to US policy and are not equipped to do so."
The announcement also states that procedures have been prepared in relation to the submarines' visits. The issue has already been discussed in the government, as well as the Foreign Affairs Committee and the National Security Council have been informed about the issue.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Þórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörð Gylfadóttir, said that this increases the security of underwater infrastructure, like submarine cables around Iceland. However, the decision is not only about Iceland's security but also about commitments to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the defense of the North Atlantic. The Minister also said this will take place outside of Reykjanes, or Helguvík to be more specific. It is unknown how many visits there will be, but probably several a year. The agreement is for the future, but permission must be requested to come close to land each time. The Coast Guard will, in cooperation with other parties, take care of bringing supplies to them.
Photo: The U.S. National Archives via Picryl.com
Map: Arctic Portal