Parliament Demands Answers from Defense Minister About US Flights on Jan Mayen

Jan Mayen panorama. Photo:Sindre Skrede

A series of researchers warns against permitting planes from the US Air Force to land and take off at Jan Mayen. Now, the Norwegian defense minister has to answer to Parliament.

The American air forces have visited Jan Mayen to consider the landing conditions and security on the airstrip of this tiny Norwegian island located between Norway and Greenland.

The intent is to facilitate planes from the US Air Force being able to land and take off at Jan Mayen, according to Norwegian broadcaster NRK.

This will increase opportunities for training with allies, according to a press release from the US Air Force. They argue that using the runway at Jan Mayen will enhance better coordination and cooperation.

Jan Mayen is located between Norway and Greenland, northeast of Iceland.

The Norwegian defense says to NRK that the reasons for this facilitating is that it will enhance allied assistance with supplies, as well as make it possible for the American air forces to use Jan Mayen in a so-called “preparedness situation”.

Fear higher tension

However; many researchers believe this will contribute to worsening an already tense situation in the Arctic, and they have in particular the relationship between the USA and Russia in mind.

Professor Tormod Heier at the Norwegian Defense Academy says:

“This pulls Norway into big power rivalry because we are unable to maintain order in our own house using only our own forces.”

Senior researcher Andreas Østhagen at the Fridtjof Nansen Institute last week accounted for the relationship between Norway and the USA in a High North News story last week.

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He says to NRK that he believes American military presence at Jan Mayen will provoke Russia.

“If you want to avoid provoking Russia, this may not be your best idea”.

Forsvarsminister Frank Bakke-Jensen fnyser av kritikken fra Robert Mood og Julie Wilhelmsen. Foto: Svein-Arnt Eriksen/Nord universitet
Defense Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen. Photo: Svein-Arnt Eriksen/Nord University

Demands answers

Socialist Left Party leader and Member of the Parliament’s Standing Committee on Foreign and Defense Issues, Audun Lysbakken, Friday sent a series of written questions to Defense Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen, according to NRK.

In the letter, Lysbakken asks the defense minister to answer what assessments he has made about American use of the landing strip when it comes to Norway’s relationship with Russia.

The defense minister has until Thursday to respond.

Facts: Jan Mayen

  • Jan Mayen is a 377 km2 Arctic island which since 1930 has been part of the Kingdom of Norway. It is not a dependency and is not included in the Svalbard Treaty. The island is managed by the Nordland County Governor, however, it is not a part of Nordland County.
  • Jan Mayen is rather isolated in the northwestern part of the Norwegian Sea. It has Greenland 460 km to its west, Iceland 560 km to its southwest, Svalbard 990 km to its northeast and mainland Norway is 910 km east of Jan Mayen.
  • Jan Mayen is partially covered by a glacier and has the world’s northernmost active volcano, Beerenberg. It is, with its 2,277 meters above sea level, one of the highest mountains in Norway.


This article was originally published in Norwegian and has been translated by HNN's Elisabeth Bergquist.