US Considered Secretly Storing Nuclear Arms in Iceland During Cold War

The project was ultimately rejected for fear of Iceland leaving NATO and US public image suffering a serious blow, if revealed. Still, Iceland was seen as a possible “conditional deployment” site until the Nixon era.

In the 1950s, the United States considered deploying nuclear weapons in Iceland unbeknownst to Icelanders, according to declassified documents published by the National Security Archive.

“At the end of the 1950s, the US Navy ordered the construction of a facility for storing nuclear depth bombs, an Advanced Underseas Weapons (AUW) Shop at the outskirts of Keflavik Airport”, the National Security Archive wrote. “The AUW facility was built by local Icelandic workers who thought its purpose was to store torpedoes”.

At that point, Iceland, which is located in the northwest Atlantic halfway between the US and Europe, was seen as a perfect choke point to block Soviet submarines. In the late 1950s and the 1960s, atomic weapons such as the US Navy’s ASROC rocket-launched nuclear depth charge were widely deployed. The nuclear arms stored in Iceland could have potentially been used by US ships and aircraft conducting anti-submarine missions.

However, despite having joined NATO in 1949, Iceland was firmly against US nukes on its soil and had a strong domestic opposition to the US military presence, led by the Icelandic Anti-War Movement. A 1955 survey showed that more Icelanders opposed US bases than supported them.

These proposals were ultimately rejected…

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