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American nuclear submarine met by protesters in Tromsø: - I fear that Tromsø will be a bomb target - Norway

The demonstrators have shown up with banners and express their dissatisfaction towards the reactor-powered vessel arrived in Tromsø.


Published : May 10; 2021 by NRK


The demonstrators have gathered in Tønsvik harbor in Tromsø to protest against the American submarine docking. They fear that Tromsø will become a bomb target and react to the lack of contingency plans.

- I fear that Tromsø will be a bomb target if there is a war. The contingency plan does not mention whether there are nuclear weapons on board the vessel, says Ingrid Schanke, leader of the organization Norway for Peace.

The reactor-powered American submarine appeared off the coast at 07:00 on Monday morning. At 12 o'clock it docked in Tromsø. The nuclear submarine docks to get food supplies, among other things.

But there was a stong reaction when the Americans wanted to send reactor-powered vessels to Tromsø.

The reason is that Tromsø municipality does not have the expertise or equipment to be able to handle a possible accident with radioactive leakage.

- Fear of misfortune

Brage Skrede Kyllo is one of the protesters who showed up. He also reacts to the lack of contingency plans.

- I have shown up to show resistance to what is happening here now, because if an accident should happen, the consequences have not been taken into account. We are concerned about those who live nearby.

The nuclear submarine docks at a civilian quay, not far from Tromsø city center. However, the entire area is defined as a military area as long as the nuclear submarine remains.

A security zone of 500 meters has been introduced around Tønsvik harbor, and the Armed Forces have strict security on land, at sea and in the air. In addition, there is a flight ban in the area until midnight on May 12.

According to NRK's reporter on the spot, representatives from the Armed Forces have tried to talk to the protesters. The demonstrators were also offered coffee and pastry, but they were refused.

Spokeswoman for the Armed Forces' operational headquarters, Elisabeth Eikeland, says she understands that some may be skeptical, but that they are confident that the operation will go as planned.

- Can you guarantee that there are no nuclear weapons on this boat?

- According to the Bratteli doctrine from 1975, Norway has set as a precondition that our allies do not bring nuclear weapons to Norway. We have been dealing with this for over 40 years. The United States is our closest ally, we have a close and good cooperation and we base ourselves on the trust that exists between the countries. We assume that our closest allies respect the doctrine.

Elisabeth Eikeland, spokesperson for the Armed Forces' operational headquarters. 


Nuclear accident is unlikely scenario

Tromsø is one of the cities in the country that has a duty to receive allied boats, and Tønsnes will thus be one of two ports in Norway for the NATO alliance's reactor-powered vessels.

In order for NATO to be able to use the port of Tromsø, the Armed Forces had to make a risk and vulnerability analysis. Among other things was the mapping of the consequences of accidents in the Tromsø area and recommend measures.

In March this year, the Armed Forces delivered the 80-page analysis. According to the Armed Forces, a nuclear accident is an unlikely scenario. But it can happen, and in case of accident, the consequences can be death, damage to health over time or radioactive damage to nature and the environment.


Earlier this week, a public meeting was held in Tromsø, where residents were asked questions by the Minister of Defense Frank Bakke-Jensen.

The Minister of Defense emphasized there that the government would never choose the port in Tønsnes if there were any doubt about safety.

However, the party leader in Rødt, Bjørnar Moxnes, believes that the situation is not good enough.

- The Minister of Defense both underestimates and downplays the consequences of an accident with these nuclear submarines. This increases the risk that Tromsø could become a military bomb target in a conflict between Russia and the United States.

Minister of Defense Frank Bakke-Jensen denies that he does not take the risk seriously, and refers to decades of experience.

- Knowledge and experience show that it is unlikely that there will be an accident with an allied vessel at the quay, the minister says.

He says that the vessel must comply with requirements that have been set in order to obtain diplomatic clearance to call at a Norwegian port, both in terms of security and notification.

The reactor-powered vessels must receive a new permit from the Ministry of Defense for each individual call. Bakke-Jensen does not believe these calls will make Tromsø a military threat.

- In Norway, we have military installations all over the country. We have no basis for saying that a port that occasionally receives American submarines could be a military target to a greater extent than many other places in Norway.

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