Iceland Authorises US Submarines in Coastal Waters

Minister of Foreign Affairs Þórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörð Gylfadóttir

US Navy nuclear-powered submarines will be allowed to stop close to Iceland and the first one is expected soon. Iceland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs has specifically stated to the US authorities that these submarines cannot carry nuclear weapons in Iceland’s territorial waters.

According to Minister of Foreign Affairs Þórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörð Gylfadóttir, this decision is in line with Icelandic authorities’ policy to support increased surveillance by NATO states, increasing the security of marine infrastructure such as marine telecommunications cables in the ocean around Iceland. The frequency of the visits will be assessed according to need. The authorisation for submarines is not restricted to a specific period and there will likely be a few visits per year. Each time a submarine approaches, it musest request permission. Þórdís Kolbrún told Vísir that the decision was not only made to increase telecommunication security but also to fulfil obligations to NATO and defence in the North Atlantic.

The first submarine is expected soon. It will be allowed to restock supplies and bring on new crew members a few kilometres off the coast of Iceland but will not dock as Iceland doesn’t have the harbour infrastructure to support submarines. Þórdís states that the submarines will stop outside the Reykjanes peninsula.

Both the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister stress that foreign military vessels’ arrival in Iceland is conditional on the respective country’s knowing and respecting Iceland’s National Security Policy which states that Iceland and Icelandic waters will not host nuclear weapons. This position has been reiterated in the Foreign Minister’s note to US authorities. Submarines authorised to stop in Icelandic waters will not carry nuclear weapons nor will they be fitted for such weapons. When asked if Icelandic authorities had any guarantee US authorities would comply with Iceland’s demands, Þórdís Kolbrún replies that it is a matter of trust.  “We base this on our solid communication with US authorities. These kinds of submarines don’t carry nuclear weapons. We have issued clear declarations and a clear policy and we’ve gotten confirmation that the Americans will honour it. Norway has a similar policy and their cooperation has been without issue for decades,” Þórdís stated.

All submarines in the service of the US Military are nuclear-powered. All seafaring vessels are authorised to cross Icelandic waters on peaceful missions, but foreign governments must apply to the foreign ministry if they want their vessels to stop Iceland’s territorial waters.

Primacy of EEA Rules Does Not Include Transfer of Legislative Power, Foreign Minister States

Minister for Foreign Affairs Þórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörð Gylfadóttir

Minister Of Foreign Affairs Þórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörð Gylfadóttir has presented a bill to Parliament ensuring the primacy of EEA rules introduced into Icelandic legislation over other national legislation, meaning that in the case of conflict, EEA rules will prevail.

The bill is a response to EFTA Surveillance Authority complaints, which has issued a reasoned opinion to Iceland concerning its failure to fulfil its obligations under Protocol 35 to the EEA Agreement and Article 3 of the EEA Agreement, as there is no mention of EEA rule precedence in Icelandic legislation.

“This bill is just one sentence that would do so,” Þórdís Kolbrún told RÚV, stating that a main point was that the article only applied to EEA regulations that Parliament had already approved, thereby making it national legislation. “The changes in wording might change the way courts interpret the law but it is of course up to them to make those judgements,” she added. In response to criticism from a member of her own party, Þórdis added that “Protocol 35 explicitly states that it does not include any transfer of legislative powers to any institution of the European Economic Area. The primacy rule will only affect articles of Icelandic legislation instituted by Parliament in case of a conflict where one contradicts another.”

Einar Is Iceland’s New Glíma King Despite Injuries

Iceland's latest Glíma King Einar Eyþórsson was taken to hospital for his injuries sustained during the final match

Einar Eyþórsson became Iceland’s glíma king for the first time this weekend despite having injured his foot before the last glíma match. Reigning Glíma Queen Kristín Embla Guðjónsdóttir defended her title.

The 112th Íslandsglíma competition took place on April 15th in Akureyri, where contestants wrestled for the chance to take home the Grettir Belt or the Freyja Chain. In addition, the victors are name Iceland’s Glíma King and Glíma Queen respectively. Before the contest, it was clear that Iceland would have a new glíma King as none of the male contestants had ever held the Belt before.

Newly belted Glíma King Einar Eyþórsson and Reigning Glíma Queen Kristín Embla Guðjónsdóttir.
Skapti Hallgrímsson. Newly belted Glíma King Einar Eyþórsson and Reigning Glíma Queen Kristín Embla Guðjónsdóttir

Kristín Embla Guðjónsdóttir, Iceland’s reigning glíma Queen successfully defended her title again, making her the Glíma Queen for the third year running. In the final glíma, she was up against her sister, Elín Eik Guðjónsdóttir, competing in the national championships for the first time.

In the final round for the Grettir Belt, Einar Eyþórsson was up against Hákon Gunnarsson. They had equal points once the time was up after their first match, meaning that they would compete again in an untimed round for the win. However, before the final match took place, Einar injured his foot, telling that some cartilage between the bones in his foot had become loose. During the final untimed round lasting close to five minutes, his injury got worse and after Einar had secured his victory, medics transported Einar to hospital.

Einar was injured during his final match with Hákon Gunnarsson
Skapti Hallgrímsson. Einar was injured during his final glíma match with Hákon Gunnarsson

Winning the Grettir belt had been Einar’s dream since childhood, as the son of a two-time Glíma king Eyþór Pétursson (1983 and 1987) and younger brother to nine-time glíma King Pétur Eyþórsson (2004-2014).

Read more on Einar’s journey to becoming Glíma King: In the Balance