Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir has stated she considers it out of the question for the US Army to have a permanent presence in Iceland or build a new army base in the East Fjords. Vísir reports that Admiral Robert Burke of the US Navy aired both ideas at an invite-only press conference at the US Embassy in Reykjavík last week.
At the exclusive press conference, Admiral Burke, who is commander of the US Naval Forces in Europe and Africa, suggested the possibility of anti-submarine aircraft and support forces having a permanent presence at Keflavík Airport. He also suggested port facilities for the US Navy in East Iceland.
Responding to his statements, Katrín said that the defence agreement with the US and membership in NATO are part of Iceland’s national security policy. On that basis, the US military has certain facilities at Keflavík Airport, including to accommodate anti-submarine aircraft. It is also on that basis that exercises in air patrol are carried out by NATO in Icelandic air space on a regular basis.
“But a substantial change as was stated in this conversation, that is to say permanent presence or a new military base in Iceland, is out of the question. And has not been discussed with Icelandic authorities or officials to the best of our knowledge,” the Prime Minister stated, adding that “our position is quite clear.” Any change in the nature of Iceland’s co-operation with US forces and NATO would have to be debated in Parliament. A major port construction project in Northeast Iceland is intended to accommodate cargo ships, not a military base, Katrín stated.
Katrín’s party, the Left-Green Movement, has always stood firmly in opposition to Iceland’s membership in NATO. At the first NATO summit she attended, in 2018, she discussed disarmament.