US Nuclear Sub Visit in Arctic Norway Causes Unease, Protests

Photo credit: NRK

The second visit in a year of the nuclear submarine USS Washington in Tromsø, northern Norway, on Tuesday has sparked strong reactions and protests among local citizens who believe that the port calls by the US nuclear submarines endanger the inhabitants and the local environment.

Cruise missiles-armed USS Washington’s task is to patrol the northern waters, where the Russian Northern fleet’s submarines sail out of the bases at the Kola Bay and the Barents Sea.

On top of the constant fear anxious about what might happen if an accident should occur with the submarines’ nuclear-powered systems, protesters who gathered outside the port’s guarded gates said they’re worried that frequent submarines’ visits might draw Norway into a dangerous game between superpowers risking conflict.

They also worry that it can make Tromsø, Western Europe’s largest city above the Arctic circle, a military target due to the closeness to Tønsnes harbor.

Concerned about the symbolic effect of US submarines being invited into Norwegian waters, Håkon Elvenes of the organization “No to nuclear-powered warships” believes they should not be allowed to dock in Norway arguing it is a dangerous mix of military and civilian purposes.

According to him, that mixture, which hasn’t been assessed well enough by the Norwegian authorities, may also be in conflict with international law on top of representing a huge danger due to the risk that something can always happen to any nuclear reactor.

Reds Party’s youth wing Young Reds’ leader Alberta Tennøe Bekkhus, who supports Elvenes’s organization, believes Norway is to blame for the situation since it has welcomed large military forces from the US and is also allowing NATO and the United States to use Norwegian soil to get closer to Russia in a time when the Western military alliance is pursuing aggressive rhetoric and a provocative policy against Moscow.

They also believe the new agreement between the US and Norway on the military use of Norwegian soil- the Supplementary Defence Cooperation Agreement (SDCA) – is completely wrong since it’ll only make Norway more insecure.

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