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Viewing cable 06REYKJAVIK91, SUMMARY OF ICELANDIC MEDIA INTERVIEWS WITH US

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06REYKJAVIK91 2006-03-17 18:06 2011-01-13 05:05 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Reykjavik
VZCZCXYZ0003
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHRK #0091 0761852
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 171852Z MAR 06
FM AMEMBASSY REYKJAVIK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2635
INFO RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY 0183
UNCLAS REYKJAVIK 000091 
 
SIPDIS 
 
USNATO FOR MIKIEWICZ 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: NATO MARR PREL KPAO IIP ECA IC
SUBJECT:  SUMMARY OF ICELANDIC MEDIA INTERVIEWS WITH US 
AMBASSADOR OVER REALIGNMENT OF U.S. NAVAL AIR STATION 
KEFLAVIK 
 
REF: A) Embassy Reykjavik emails to Washington with 
 
substance of each of the interviews 03/16/06 
 
1. Summary:  Ambassador held a March 16 marathon of 
interviews with seven media outlets (reftel A) to explain 
reasons behind the U.S. Government's decision to realign 
Naval Air Station Keflavik and withdraw its four F-15 
fighters and search and rescue helicopters by the end of 
September 2006. The reporters asked many of the same 
questions about the timing of the decision, why the news 
came in a phone call, and what is envisioned for Iceland's 
defense in the future. End Summary. 
 
-------------------------------------------- 
Criticism of the Timing of the Base Decision 
-------------------------------------------- 
2. Ambassador gave separate interviews March 16 to National 
Radio, National TV, NFS TV (an all-news channel), the 
newspapers Morganbladid, Frettabladid and Bladid, and the 
Associated Press (from London).  Nearly all the reporters 
asked her about the `sudden' decision to realign the base 
and withdraw the fighters and search and rescue helicopters. 
She replied that this was a difficult decision was taken 
after long and careful analysis. In her interview with 
National TV, with an audience of 50 percent of the Icelandic 
population), she said:  "Ambassador Gadsden did deliver the 
message of withdrawing the planes three years ago. Also, 
President Bush told the Foreign Minister then that the idea 
was under review and discussion." 
 
3. She said the decision was based primarily on the evolving 
global security environment and is a part of the 
reposturing of U.S. military forces worldwide, which has 
resulted in the withdrawal of half a million U.S. military 
forces from Europe and Asia and the closing of dozens of 
military bases in the United States. 
 
4. Asked whether this was a slap in the face to Iceland, 
given its generous cost-sharing offer made during the 
defense talks last month, the Ambassador responded:  "We 
appreciated Iceland's generous proposal at the February 
defense talks, but the decision on the base realignment in 
the end was based on the changes in the global security 
environment." 
 
------------------------- 
Ignoring Iceland's Views? 
------------------------- 
 
5. Reporters also asked the Ambassador why the United States 
was `ignoring' Iceland's views in taking this decision 
regarding the future of the base, and quoted some 
politicians as saying that this could amount to an 
abrogation of the 1951 Defense Agreement. In the National TV 
interview, Ambassador said:  "We listened to their proposals 
very hard.  The treaty is flexible to accommodate this 
change.  Our U.S. military presence has gone up and down 
over the years. The threats facing Iceland need to be looked 
at in the present context, and we will do that in future 
defense talks." 
 
6. As she told the NFS-TV reporter:  "This is a new chapter, 
a different chapter in our relationship.  There have been 
changes in our relationship over the past 60 years, which is 
longer than most Icelanders have been alive.  It is a new 
step in our relationship but we will continue to abide by 
the 1951 Defense Agreement." 
 
------------------------------------------- 
Planes Outmoded Response to Today's Threats 
------------------------------------------- 
 
7. When asked by National Radio about whether the planes 
were necessary for Iceland's defense, Ambassador answered: 
"We don't think that the stationing of the planes here is an 
appropriate use of those assets.  We remain committed to 
Iceland's defense.  Over the years, the U.S. military has 
made great strides in achieving the rapid deployment of 
troops.  We need to look ahead to the security threats of 
the twenty-first century, not those that were present during 
the Cold War, and the treaty is flexible in that regard." 
 
VAN VOORST