The Pentagon will refurbish an air base in Iceland

The $21.4 million upgrades are designed to equip the station with reconnaissance planes that will patrol the North Atlantic for Russian submarines.

History and plans

The "Keflavik" Air Force Base in Iceland was built in 1951 during the beginning of the Cold War, and was closed in 2006. It housed American fighters and reconnaissance planes, as well as eight radar systems under the NATO agreement. The planned revival will affect the infrastructure and military equipment. The upgrade will pave the way for the deployment of the P-8 Poseidon reconnaissance planes.

Fear of Russia

The main motivation for the US' recovery of the base is the fear of the revival of Russian power. The Pentagon believes that the strengthening of Russia's military presence in the Arctic threatens the interests of the US and NATO members. Washington is looking to increase the number of military forces in Europe and reinforce key points for the deterrence of Moscow; one such point is the base in Iceland.

Political limitations

Nevertheless, the US will not fully refurbish the base to the level it was at during the Cold War because they afraid that it would provoke Russia to take retaliatory action. In addition, Iceland's government is also skeptical about the project. Firstly, there are environmental reasons for restricting the US' military presence. In 1968, a bomber, carrying four nuclear bombs on board, crashed near the Thule Air Base. As a result of the disaster, the area became radioactively contaminated. In addition, it caused a political crisis in Denmark, as the country had officially a non-nuclear status. Secondly, because Russia buys Icelandic seafood in high-volume, the deterioration of relations with Russia due to the presence of the US military base may have a negative impact on sales.