First US Navy Submarine Service Stop in Icelandic Waters

USS San Juan (SSN 751) alongside an Icelandic Coast Guard ship

The American nuclear-powered submarine USS San Juan visited Iceland yesterday for a brief service stop in the waters outside of Garðskagi, Southwest Iceland. As per a US Navy press release, San Juan does not carry nuclear weapons. Foreign Minister Þórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörd Gylfadóttir announced on April 18 that nuclear-powered submarines of the US Navy would be authorised to make a brief service visit in Iceland to receive supplies and exchange crew members.

This decision by the Minister for Foreign Affairs is part of the Icelandic government’s policy to support increased monitoring and response capacity of Allied countries in the North Atlantic. In recent years, the Icelandic and US governments have increased cooperation to strengthen situational awareness and readiness in the North Atlantic.

A founding member of NATO, Iceland has hosted the organisation’s exercises in recent years. In 2019, Iceland upped its defence budget by 37%. Last year, Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir announced another increase to the budget in response to the war in Ukraine, with a special emphasis on cyber security. Katrín also announced an increase in Iceland’s NATO funding at the time.

Candlelight Vigil for Nuclear Disarmament Held in Reykjavík

The Kertafleyting, a candlelight vigil protesting nuclear weapons, was held in Reykjavík on Thursday night, mbl.is reports. The well-attended event, which has been held annually since 1985, commemorates the victims of the 1945 nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki while also urging nations around the world to abolish nuclear weapons entirely.

Attendees floated candles on the surface of Tjörnin pond and also listened to speakers including Hjörtur Pálsson, who read his poem “Klukkurnar í Nagasaki,” or “The Clocks in Nagasaki,” as well as Sigursteinn Másson, a representative of the International Fund for Animal Welfare in Iceland and Norway, who delivered a speech. The event was moderated by Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir, the chairman of Efling labor union.

“These weapons are still today one of the greatest threats to mankind’s existence,” read an announcement from the Coalition for Peace. “And immense amounts of money are being devoted to their continued development. The likeliness of nuclear weapons being employed, either by accident or deliberately, has rarely been higher. The United Nations has drafted an accord, banning nuclear weapons and we urge Icelandic pacifist policy makers to sign and ratify that agreement.”