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Icelandic Defense Agency Established

An Icelandic Defense Agency, operating under the auspices of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, was established last Friday. The agency will handle all matters concerning Iceland’s defenses, security and defense policy.

“… [B]y establishing The Defense Agency we are taking responsibility for our own defenses and also contributing to the security of our neighboring countries in the North Atlantic and our allies in NATO. In that way we are fulfilling our duties as an independent sovereign state,” quotes Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir, Minister of Foreign Affairs, as saying.

The Icelandic government has been responsible for the country’s defenses since August 15, 2007, when the US military officially withdrew from Iceland. The Defense Agency will oversee security at Keflavík International Airport, the Midnesheidi and Helguvík regions, Mt. Bolafjall, Mt. Gunnólfsfjall and Stokkanes. It will also oversee all NATO matters in Iceland.

The director of the new agency is Ellisif Tinna Víðisdóttir. It will employ some 50 people.

Iceland’s total defense budget in 2008 is ISK 1,350 billion (USD 17.3 billion).

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