According to information from the US Embassy to Iceland leaked by Wikileaks, US authorities put pressure on Foreign Minister Össur Skarphédinsson in an effort to persuade him not to close the Defense Agency.
Icelandic Foreign Minister Össur Skarphédinsson. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.
Carol van Voorst, who was US Ambassador to Iceland at the time, wrote in a letter to Washington in February 2009 that the temptation to make a ten percent cut to the ministry’s expenses could prove hard for the “volatile” Skarphédinsson to resist, Fréttabladid reports.
Van Voorst explained that Skarphédinsson was being pressured by other ministers of the Social Democrat-Left-Green minority coalition to make cutbacks in his ministry and that he found shutting the Defense Agency down a viable option.
The ambassador said US authorities did not favor that idea and that she had encouraged Skarphédinsson not to reduce expenses to defense issues. She also explained that she was planning to get other NATO ambassadors to do the same but in a subtle manner.
Van Voorst told Skarphédinsson that every penny which the Defense Agency received for airspace monitoring would go to the purchase of products or services from Icelandic suppliers.