Nuclear submarines would be allowed to make port calls to Norwegian ports soon, Norwegian Defense Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen told the news outlet Forsvarets Forum.
There’s no period provided, but it says that work is being carried out to prepare the ports to accept allied nuclear submarines.
Norwegian outlets separately reported that there’s been an increased presence of international submarines in indigenous waters. The presence has tripled, with 27 port calls by US and UK nuclear-powered submarines were registered in Norway in 2018 alone.
To that end, the largest Arctic city of Tromso would be fitted to accommodate such underwater crafts.
“Grotsund industrial port has been chosen as a port of call in Northern Norway because of a suitable dock and and good infrastructure in the area. This will be a permanent offering to our allies”, Bakke-Jensen said, describing the arrival of nuclear-powered submarines as part of the allied activity in Norway and surrounding areas.
Bakke-Jensen said he expected there to be four or five port calls per year in the future, and this would not lead to any change in policy when dealing with allied activity. Meaning that Norway’s Bratelli Doctrine of 1975 that prohibits the arrival of foreign warships with nuclear weapons on board will remain in force.
“The Bratteli Doctrine has been established as Norwegian policy for over 40 years and has served Norway well”, the minister said.
There’s some opposition to the decision, mostly by the Tromso Municipal Council. Local politicians and activists are concerned over possibly safety measures if a crisis were to arise.
The Defense Minister said that local actors had always been taken into account, and that no port call would be granted unless the Directorate of Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety is sure that security is adequately safeguarded, and alleged that no accidents with western nuclear-powered vessels have occurred.
At the same time, Norway installed an observation post on its island of Vardo, which houses a US-funded radar system, NPR reported.
The goal of the endeavor is “to keep an eye” on the increasing Russian footprint in the Arctic as Norway cooperates to lobby the US and other NATO allies for a stronger presence and more military exercises in the area, according to NPR.
Just days earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Moscow is “watching with concern the presence of NATO strengthening on the Norwegian territory, qualitatively and quantitatively.”
“This also applies to the modernization of airfields for the needs of the North Atlantic alliance, this applies to the modernization of port terminals for the reception of American nuclear submarines,” Lavrov said during a meeting with his Norwegian counterpart Ine Eriksen Soereide in late October.
The top Russian diplomat recalled that there are “already several hundred US troops” in Norway, with British forces expected to follow suit.
“Naturally, we should take this into account in our military planning so that these threats do not materialise,” Lavrov stressed, adding that Russia is doing “the absolute minimum of what it should in order to feel secure.”
There’s also been a recent advent of reports of “evil” Russians operating in or around Norway, which are fearmongering reports, with no evidence in their entirety.
Such as Spetsnaz operating in Norway, “Russia trained military whales” and even a secret Russian submarine operation, taking place in Norwegian waters.
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