The U.S. military left their military base in Iceland in September 2006. With that, the last vestiges of a military presence in Iceland disappeared, as Iceland does not have an army of its own.
But since 2016 (if not before) the American military has surreptitiously been carrying out various activities in the security zone of the former base, including submarine surveillance. And that same year, the U.S. military asked the State Treasury for more finance for submarine monitoring and other projects.
Now it has emerged (Icelanders can read about it here) that the U.S. military want to set up basic facilities for about 1000 military personnel in the security zone, along with a zone with appropriate facilities where planes carrying “dangerous goods”, such as bombs and fuel, could land.
Why? It sounds very suspicious to me.
A friend in the U.S. warned me last year that Iceland would have to be careful that the U.S. did not start using the situation for “quiet back-room deals”
In 2016 I published an article that indicated, amongst other things, renewed military presence in Iceland.
Here is part of what I wrote:
… earlier this year (2016), the U.S. requested the use of a hangar for submarine monitoring, so they could fly over the sea and detect submarines using sonar.
Then in June the U.S. Department of Defense met with the Icelandic Foreign Affairs Minister, Lilja Alfredsdottir, about wanting to strengthen cooperation with the U.S. military once more, because the security situation had changed since 2006.
Then in July 2016, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) published a report in which they openly suggest: “NATO can optimize its ASW [anti-submarine warfare] posture to ensure that the right capabilities are in the right places at the right time by reopening Keflavik Naval Air Station in Iceland and encouraging Norway to reclaim and reopen its submarine support facility at Olavsvern.”
The same article also details various activities related to the NATO agreement which are permitted.
Note that the CSIS link no longer works, and that Lilja Alfredsdottir is now Education Minister; Gudlaugur Thor Thordarson is now the Foreign Affairs Minister. I don’t know anything about Olavsvern, though I just found this article which again is based on the CSIS report.
Katrin Jakobsdottir, Iceland’s Left-Green Prime Minister whose party is opposed to NATO and military operations in general, says that the decisions were made before she became PM and she cannot do anything about it.
Nevertheless, many people are unhappy about the situation.