Iceland will take over the operations of a NATO radar system from the US on August 15, as announced after a meeting between the Icelandic government and the US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs R. Nicholas Burns yesterday.
Iceland will cover the cost of operating the system; ISK 800 million (USD 12.6 million, EUR 9.5 million) every year, but the US may help cover some of the costs of maintaining the system, Fréttabladid reports.
“Radars are necessary in the modern world, not just to observe bombers […]. We hope to reach an agreement between our governments before August 15 so the continued operations of the radar system will be secured,” Burns told reporters.
“It is perfectly clear that we will operate it, but it remains undecided whether they [the US] are prepared to help maintain and renew the system when needed, which is very expensive,” said Iceland’s Foreign Minister Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir.
According to a statement from the Icelandic government, a new security committee is to be founded, the purpose of which is to estimate security threats and be responsible for preparations. The committee will also be in charge of determining how the radar system can be used as a tool of defense for Iceland.
“One can always question whether it is sensible to spend money on any kind of defense. It became clear when the US left that we would be responsible for defense issues and cover the necessary costs,” said Gísladóttir. “It can hardly be considered normal that other countries always have to cover the cost of defending a state like Iceland.”
Click here to read more about US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs R. Nicholas Burns visiting Iceland.