Cablegate: U.S.-Iceland Security Dialogue Meeting, April 30


DE RUEHC #3686 1642053
R 122043Z JUN 08

C O N F I D E N T I A L STATE 063686


E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/12/2018

Classified By: Kurt Volker, Acting, EUR, Department of State.
Reason 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (C) Summary. U.S. and Icelandic officials April 30
reviewed Iceland,s defense developments and bilateral
security cooperation at working-level Security Dialogue
meetings in Washington, D.C. Iceland previewed creation of
the Icelandic Defense Agency this year, its plan to host a
high-level NATO seminar on the High North in January 2009,
and NATO air policing, just begun with a French deployment at
Keflavik. Representatives from the Department of Defense,
Department of State, FBI, and U.S. Coast Guard (USCG)
discussed ongoing and potential areas for cooperation with
Icelandic representatives from the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs, Ministry of Justice and from the Prime Minister,s
Office. Iceland offered to host follow-on discussions in
Reykjavik next year. End Summary.

Iceland,s New Defense Agency

2. (C) Delegation Head, Ambassador and Director of the
Icelandic MFA Defense Department Ambassador Thorir Ibsen said
that the June launch of the Icelandic Defense Agency was
intended to consolidate all defense-related matters formerly
found in offices throughout the MFA into a single agency.
The Defense Agency will be subordinate to the MFA's Defense
Department and will execute Iceland,s defense activities
while the Defense Department continues in its policy role.
The Agency will serve as a framework for approaching issues
related to security changes in the High North and will be
responsible for operation of the Icelandic Air Defense System
(IADS) radars and Iceland,s participation in NATO.

3. (C) Foreign Policy Advisor to the Prime Minister Sturla
Sigurjonsson said the government will spend the next 3-4
years on coordination of the Defense Agency and after that on
its evolution. Prior to the establishment of the Agency,
there was no legal basis for the Icelandic government to
perform any defense-related operations. Director of Police
and Judicial Affairs at the Ministry of Justice Thorunn
Hafstein said that creation of the Defense Agency was an
important legal step that would offer the MOJ greater
opportunities than ever before for coordination on Police,
Coast Guard and search and rescue.

Air Policing Cooperation

4. (C) Ibsen welcomed the upcoming U.S. deployment for
Northern Viking air policing exercises set for September.
Norway recently sent a team to provide air traffic control
training in advance of the exercises. OSD Policy Office
Director Todd Harvey said the United States is looking
forward to the Northern Viking deployment and said DOD wants
to foster closer cooperation and to enhance interoperability
with a focus on IADS radar, air policing, and exercises. DOD
noted that the final planning conference for Northern Viking
will take place in Keflavik June 25-26.

Radar Upgrades and Spare Parts Pricing

5. (C) Ibsen reported that FM Gisladottir had discussed IADS
upgrades with DOD U/S Edelman when she met with him during
her April 11 visit to Washington. OSD Todd Harvey said that
U/S Edelman had recommended that Iceland seek NATO funding
for upgrades through its security and investment program.
Ibsen said that Iceland would support such an effort but was
not willing to lead it, instead asking that the U.S. lead.
Regarding pricing for spare parts Iceland wants to purchase
to maintain existing IADS radar, Harvey noted that the
overriding goal is to preserve the radars as fully
functioning and able to serve their purpose. He said OSD was
nearing the end of a pricing review for spare parts and hoped
soon to have a final price. Ibsen emphasized the importance
of coming to a conclusion as quickly as possible.

Coast Guard Cooperation

6. (C) MOJ,s Hafstein pointed to the rapid increase in
vessels transiting the region combined with dangerous sea
conditions as a strong motivation for Iceland to pursue
cooperation with the USCG. The traffic increase heightens
the need for search and rescue (SAR) capabilities, maritime
domain awareness, and &command of sea lanes.8 Hafstein
said Iceland,s Coast Guard (ICG) enjoys a 24/7 link with
USCG Boston and that cooperation is outstanding.

7. (C) Hafstein reported Iceland will chair the North
Atlantic Coast Guard Forum (NACGF) beginning in September,
calling it the most important maritime forum in which her
agency participates. She said Iceland also supports creating
Regional Maritime Security Operations Centers in the North
Atlantic, separate from the NACGF. Iceland is willing to
host such a center and would welcome USCG participation.

8. (C) USCG presented a draft MOU for Cooperation (a
counterproposal in response to a draft presented by the ICG
to the USCG last year). Hafstein welcomed the draft and
reiterated Iceland,s desire to join the trilateral (Canada,
UK, US) SAR MOU -- a request currently under review.


9. (C) Foreign Policy Advisor to the Prime Minister Sturla
Sigurjonsson expressed concerns over developments in the High
North affecting transport of energy resources and indicated
uncertainty as to the degree to which NATO should focus on
energy. EEB Stephen Gallogly said there is ongoing
discussion in the USG, but the focus for energy discussions
is still within IAEA rather than NATO. Iceland,s Ambassador
to Washington Albert Jonsson commented on the considerable
geothermal resources in the United States and noted Icelandic
investment and cooperation in developing such projects in


10. (C) Sigurjonsson referred to Iceland,s longstanding good
relations with Russia, calling it a neighbor. He reminded
that &Iceland is a very small country that must take care in
its approach to Russia.8 He nevertheless expressed some
concern about the recent, more aggressive posture Russia has
taken, in particular citing Russian long range aviation
activity that has encroached on Iceland,s civil aviation

11. (C) Sigurjonsson said it was no coincidence that one of
the initial Russian flights took place the day after NAS
Keflavik closed and stated that the current situation is very
different than that during the Cold War. Now flights are
much closer to Iceland, and there is far denser civil
aviation activity in the area than in the past. Sigurjonsson
said Russian flights have come as close as 35 miles to
Reykjavik and showed a graphic demonstrating a recent flight
that had circumnavigated the country. While concerned that
Russian motivations could include claiming a stake to the
North Atlantic, he said that Iceland,s main worry is for the
safety of civil aviation. Iceland does not see increased
Russian LRA activity as a military threat.

Committed to Afghanistan

12. (C) Ibsen said Iceland needs to better focus its
contribution in Afghanistan, which currently comprises 14
non-combat troops supporting a PRT, ISAF HQ and Kabul airport
operations, and added that that &funding is not yet clear.8
Ibsen said Iceland was glad to be joining Norway at the PRT
in Meymaneh and indicated that it was also interested in
assisting with police training. The government plans to
unveil a three-year strategy for Afghanistan in June, which
will spell out a longer term, more focused commitment.
Iceland was pleased with the choice of Kai Eide as UN envoy
in Afghanistan. Sigurjonsson noted that Iceland had
previously pledged $1 million to the UK for heavy airlift
which had not yet been used. Consequently, Iceland plans to
transfer $500,000 to a UK-sponsored NATO helicopter fund.

NATO Seminar on High North

13. (C) Sigurjonsson said Iceland is planning a NATO seminar
for January 2009 and it wants to &make the High North a NATO
issue.8 He reported that the NATO Secretary General will
attend and Iceland is expecting high level participation from
countries including Denmark, Norway and Canada. Iceland
hopes also for good representation by the United States,
though Sigurjonsson acknowledged that timing would be
problematic. Planning for the meeting is being coordinated
through staff at NATO HQ. Sigurjonsson asked for a POC at
State with whom Iceland can work on developing the program.
Sigurjonsson said Iceland plans to limit attendance to the
NATO 26 because the &discussion would be different8 if
broadened to include NATO partners (which would necessarily
include Russia).

Police Cooperation

14. (C) MOJ Hafstein said a National Police Security Unit was
created in January of 2007 and has since produced threat
assessments on domestic terrorism -- which not surprisingly
have been unalarming.

15. Hafstein asked for an assessment of the organized crime
threat posed by increased Chinese and Russian immigration.
FBI Eurasian Organized Crime Unit Chief Barry Braun cautioned
that Russian money laundering could become a serious problem
and that securing cooperation from the Russian government on
information sharing could be challenging. Hafstein welcomed
the possibility of sending staff to receive training from the

16. Participants in the Strategic Dialogue included:

Amb. Thorir Ibsen, Director Defense Department, Ministry of
Foreign Affairs- Head of Delegation
Amb. Sturla Sigurjonsson, Foreign Policy Adviser to the Prime
Ms. Thorunn J. Hafstein, Director of Police and Judicial
Affairs, Ministry of Justice
Amb. Albert Jonsson, Embassy of Iceland
Mr. Fridrik Jonsson, Counselor, Defense Department, Ministry
of Foreign Affairs
Mr. Finnur Thor Birgisson, First Secretary, Embassy

United States

Todd Harvey OSD/Policy Office Director
Andrew Winternitz OSD/Policy Desk Officer

Judy Garber Deputy Assistant Secretary
Bob Gilchrist Director, Office of Nordic and
Baltic Affairs
Marc Norman S/CT
Mary Nash EUR/PRA
Howard Solomon EUR/RUS
Stephen Gallogly EEB/ESC/IEC
Peter Shea EUR/RPM
Paul Harrison EUR/RPM
Cdr. Mark Skolnicki OES/OA (USCG Liaison)
Capt. Mark Cawthorn INL/LP (USCG Liaison)

Embassy Reykjavik
Cdr. Patrick Geraghty A/DATT

Barry Braun Chief, Eurasian Organized Crime
Sally Netter Office of International Affairs
Lt. Tamara Wallen Legal Advisor, Office of Maritime
and International Law

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