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Viewing cable 06REYKJAVIK140, APRIL 2006 DEFENSE DISCUSSIONS: ICELAND'S RED

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06REYKJAVIK140 2006-04-24 11:11 2011-01-13 05:05 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Reykjavik
VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHRK #0140/01 1141128
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 241128Z APR 06
FM AMEMBASSY REYKJAVIK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2713
INFO RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEAHLC/HOMELAND SECURITY CENTER WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY 0210
C O N F I D E N T I A L REYKJAVIK 000140 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
OSLO FOR DATT 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/04/2016 
TAGS: PREL PINR MARR MASS IC
SUBJECT: APRIL 2006 DEFENSE DISCUSSIONS:  ICELAND'S RED 
LINES 
 
REF: A. (A) REYKJAVIK 118 
 
     B. (B) KOSNETT-STATE/DOD E-MAILS 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR CAROL VAN VOORST, REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D). 
 
1. (C) Summary:  Recent discussions with Icelandic Government 
personnel and the first three meetings of a bilateral working 
group managing base closure issues offer indications of GOI 
expectations for the EUCOM briefing 4/26 in Reykjavik. 
Although the Icelandic leadership understands the classified 
nature of the EUCOM plan to defend Iceland, they are looking 
for a briefing that is concrete enough to allow ministers to 
explain its basic elements to a skeptical public.  With Naval 
Air Station Keflavik (NASKEF) preparing for closure, it is 
also urgent that we come to a swift understanding with the 
Icelanders on transition issues to include status of the 
Agreed Area, IADS, environment, real estate, and airport 
operations.  End summary. 
 
2. (C) Since the last round of bilateral defense talks March 
31 (reftel), Ambassador, DCM, and poloff have canvassed 
senior Icelandic diplomats for their reactions and hopes for 
the next round, now scheduled for April 26.  In addition, a 
working group of Icelandic and Embassy, NASKEF, and Iceland 
Defense Force officials has met three times to discuss 
nuts-and-bolts aspects of the U.S. military's departure. 
Post's findings and recommendations: 
 
-------- 
The Plan 
-------- 
3. (C) The plan to defend Iceland after the withdrawal of the 
combat aircraft that EUCOM presents will need to meet the 
following criteria if it is to respond to Icelandic concerns 
about the optics of the bilateral defense relationship as 
well as about security: 
 
-- Intelligibility:  Briefers should keep in mind that 
Icelanders have limited competence in military matters, and 
no one at their side of the table this week will have 
military experience.  We must take care to facilitate 
Icelandic engagement through plain speaking in layman's terms. 
 
-- Specificity:  Foreign Minister Geir Haarde and other 
government ministers must be able to reassure the public that 
there is a blueprint for Iceland's defense.  GOI officials 
understand that part of the blueprint will necessarily be 
classified, but must also to be able to express confidence 
that our defense plan for Iceland is reasonably concrete -- 
and to disclose enough details to make it credible to a 
public accustomed to the very "visible defense" offered by 
the departing aircraft and base personnel. 
 
-- Input:  The GOI wants and needs to be seen to have had 
input into the plan.  Icelandic chief negotiator Albert 
Jonsson and FM Haarde have made it clear that the Icelandic 
government expects to comment on and perhaps contribute ideas 
to any U.S. plan before it is finalized. 
 
-- Air cover:  The Icelanders still want force posture that 
is "visible and robust," i.e. planes here at least some of 
the time and, ideally, some facilities left here to service 
them.  In addition, they want a schedule of exercises. 
 
-- Radars:  The GOI insists on continued operation of the 
NATO-controlled Integrated Air Defense System (IADS). 
 
----------------- 
Transition Issues 
----------------- 
4. (C) The bilateral Transition Work Group that has been 
meeting to handle the practicalities of base drawdown (ref B) 
has identified several areas of U.S.-Icelandic disagreement 
that we need to address promptly, before the Icelandic 
position hardens to a point where negotiation will become 
impossible.  The main issues are: 
 
-- Agreed Area:  The GOI believes the USG is responsible for 
continued utility costs, maintenance of, and security for the 
Agreed Area even if we withdraw our forces and that there is 
no point to the Defense Agreement if we do not accept this 
view.  They have suggested that any U.S. actions must be 
approved by the NATO Infrastructure Committee. 
 
-- Environment/real estate:  The Icelanders want to move 
quickly on land return and need to be told whether the U.S. 
will ask for residual value payments (note:  which they have 
said they do not wish to pay; end note) and who should be 
responsible for environmental and UXO cleanup (note:  they 
argue it should be us; end note). 
 
-- Airport operations:  The Icelanders want us to hand over 
equipment needed to maintain the airfield; we have thus far 
said that the U.S. is open to providing the equipment but 
that the question of whether and how much we would expect in 
payment is an open one.  The MFA has promised a formal letter 
of request for specific equipment. 
 
------------------------ 
Comment/Action Requested 
------------------------ 
5. (C) The bilateral talks scheduled for April 26 are a key 
event for the Icelandic government.  The EUCOM team must 
deliver the briefing on "the plan" that they promised the 
Icelanders March 31, at the risk of damaging our credibility 
and undercutting our well-wishers in the Icelandic 
government.  The EUCOM team must come to Iceland with the 
object not just of briefing the government but of soliciting 
Reykjavik's input.  We need to tell the government enough 
about how we would defend this NATO ally so that FM Haarde 
and his colleagues can say they have confidence that the U.S. 
has considered possible threats and knows how we would deal 
with them.  On another track, we also need to reach 
interagency agreement on transition issues very soon and get 
to work on implementing our decisions. 
 
6. (C) On base transition issues, we recommend that an 
interagency team empowered formally to negotiate -- not just 
to brief on U.S. views -- be dispatched as early in May as 
feasible. 
van Voorst