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Government Parties Reach Defense Agreement

The two government parties, the Independence Party and the Social Democrats, have reached a decision on defenses for Iceland. Their goal is to better define the power held by the authorities in this regard and establish a special Institute of Defense.

Projects related to NATO and radar supervision will belong to the new institute and it will also be responsible for military exercises. Its headquarters will be located at the security zone at Keflavík International Airport and the annual cost of its operations is estimated at ISK 1.3 billion (USD 20 million, EUR 14 million), Fréttabladid reports.

The Icelandic state will operate the Institute of Defense, under the high command of the Minister for Foreign Affairs. “It will not be responsible for civil defense or policing in any way,” said Foreign Minister Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir.

This way, projects related to outside defense and civil defense will be separated and thus make it easier to democratically supervise outside defense issues. The bill on this arrangement will be presented at the Althingi parliament on Thursday. MPs will convene for the first time after Christmas today.

MP for the Independence Party Jón Gunnarsson said he does not agree with every point of the bill, though he believes it can prove a good basis. “I’ve had my doubts about the operation of the radar supervision and also the military exercises, which will be organized a few times a year. I think making a special institute responsible for that is completely pointless.”

“But we have no experience in this kind of matter yet and if it turns out that it is more sensible to do things in a different way, the laws can be amended,” Gunnarsson added.

Until September 2006, Iceland’s defenses were in the hands of the US military which was based near Keflavík.

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