The defense of Greenland is essential for NATO. It is regulated in a 1951 agreement between Denmark and the United States. Military territory is Greenland part of Denmark with a Danish commander. Operationally, it is part of NATO’s Atlantic Command (SACLANT).
In addition to two now-defunct US bases (Thule Air Force Base and Søndre Strømfjord) (2008), seven large radar stations are grouped on the island, primarily to provide the US defense with warning in robotic and aerial attacks over the Arctic Ocean. As with Denmark in the rest, nuclear weapons must not be found on the island during peacetime. The United States has 136 people from the Air Force stationed in Greenland.
In 1968, an accident occurred when an aircraft with hydrogen bombs on board landed on the sea ice off the Thule base. The Danish workers and inughuit who helped with the clean-up had to struggle with Danish experts and authorities for several years to accept that their symptoms of visibility could be due to the radiation hazard.
It was not until 1996 that the Danish government awarded the Association of Thule Workers and Inughuit Compensation of DKK 50,000 per year. person for “burning and pain” in connection with the cleanup.
Nuclear weapons storage
In 1995, the Danish government had to confirm that Prime Minister HC Hansen – despite a decision in the parliament that Denmark was a nuclear-free zone – had, in an exchange of letters with the United States, accepted that nuclear weapons be deployed on the Thule base.
As «patch on the wound», the Danish state agreed to pay 270 million kroner. to Greenland. The money was earmarked for the establishment of a civilian airport in Qaanaaq, which is expected to be completed in October 2001. (The people of Qaanaaq currently have to travel via Thule Air Base to get to other cities in Greenland, as well as obtain a residence permit for both Greenlanders as foreigners traveling in transit via the base).
New defense agreement
Greenland has for several years insisted on a renegotiation of the defense agreement and a reduction in the base area. Negotiations between the US and Denmark/Greenland are expected to begin in the spring of 2000.
New missile defense
At present, the US defense is planning to establish a new missile defense system. at Thule. Experts have expressed concern that a new missile system will boost the US-Russia military balance and bring Europe into a kind of hostage role. The case could also bring the Danish government into a dilemma; as early as 1987, the parliament adopted an agenda which said that the Thule base should not be used for purposes which were contrary to the ABM Treaty between the United States and the then Soviet Union.
Prime Minister Jonathan Motzfeldt has stated that Greenland does not want to become the focal point of a cold war again, and that a new US defense system on the base, among other things. must be subject to acceptance by Russia.