Reykjavik ended the Cold War

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Do the leaders of the world lack a vision for the future so badly that they try to reenact the Cold War?

1986. A nuclear reactor explodes in Chernobyl releasing four hundred times more radioactive material than the former bombing of Japan. Nuclear testing had been ongoing and had released even more radioactive material. 1986 a letter from one man to another proposes a meeting “maybe” in Reykjavík: “Gorbachev’s initial letter to Reagan from 15 September 1986 asking for “a quick one-on-one meeting, let us say in Iceland or in London,” 1986: A proud moment for Iceland when the Reykjavík Summit happens.

The leader of the then Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev and the then U.S. President Ronald Reagan met for negotiations. Therefore the first time steps for the so-called INF agreement were initiated. When the meeting happened in Reykjavik INF type missile base installation work had begun in five nations in Europe by the U.S. The work was discontinued after the summit. The original INF treaty was signed six months later on December 8th by the two leaders in Washington. This to Icelanders was monumental and in line with what they then saw as a legacy of their history as a nation built by Vikings that had turned from violence towards peace. Christianity had for instance been declared the religion of the nation by acts of arbitration and peacemaking in AD 1000. The island in the middle of the Atlantic had long been considered as having strategic significance that was enacted upon from the time of the world wars especially by the U.S. that had made an agreement for continued military presence in Iceland in 1946. Iceland joined as a founding member of NATO in 1949. The U.S. military did not leave the country until 2006 and now has made plans for a return and large infrastructure investments in Iceland in 2020. News has just gotten out that it is intended that Iceland be a forward operating location for the stealth B2 Spirit Stealth bomber which can carry up to sixteen nuclear bombs, and has just visited the country.

In Iceland, the nation had been in the middle so to speak during the Cold War, with young school children learning of the dangers of nuclear war without the ability to cognize much else than the fear of the adults. The year before Reykjavík in Geneva Gorbachev had stated: “You ask what changes in the world economy could be of benefit to the Soviet Union. First of all, an end to the arms race. We would prefer to use every rouble that today goes for the defense to meet civilian, peaceful needs.”

Large nations quitting nuclear arms agreements – what questions come up?

The war scholars of the American “Warontherocks” state that due to Russia’s breach of the INF treaty withdrawal from it by the U.S. may be “justifiable” but that it is not the same as “smart”. They cite the Director of the National U.S. Intelligence Daniel Coats on information that Russia has breached the INF treaty. Coats claims that Russians had started testing in the early 2000s and by 2015 had things ready. The TASS Russian news agency quoted Chief of the Russian Missile and Artillery Force Lieutenant-General Mikhail Matveyevsky on the 23rd of January 2019 stating that the missiles pointed out by the U.S. to be in violation were not breaching the INF as they missed the 500 km mark of the parameters by 20 km reaching only 480 km because of their embedded fuel pack – i.e. they run out of gas at that point.  According to the war scholars of “Warontherrocks” – the whole issue might be amiss in terms of these exact missiles as there are other “strategic” missiles that can be flown into places (as with the B2 Sprit Stealth) or for instance, fired of ships or submarines that have not been covered by the INF treaty. Nevertheless, the INF treaty has been considered a landmark in working towards a livable and more peaceful world.

Perhaps there is a group shift towards more extreme positions currently? 

The U.S. authorities have stated that an INF is meaningless without China on board. While the Chinese claim that Russia and the U.S. have many times more nuclear weapons than themselves so that they do not consider reduction to be an issue for themselves. 

The START contract

The INF talks lead to the “START” contract on strategic nuclear disarmament signed by Gorbachev and George H.W. Bush. START expired in 2009 and was replaced with a NEW START in April 2010. The START contracts focus on different types of nuclear weapons than the INF. In combo with the INF contract, it was considered successful in greatly reducing nuclear weapons in Russia and the U.S. Yet, there is no real concern about the rise of other countries’ arsenals including notably China, North Korea, India, Pakistan, and Iran. Then there is continued concern on NATO countries that have had such weapons for a long time as France and the UK. 

President Putin of Russia has declared serious worry about lack of interest in discussions on continuing START and working on the worldwide nuclear issue. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) points out that “China was Russia’s largest client for weaponry between 1999 and 2006, accounting annually for 34–60 percent of the volume of Russia’s exports of major weapons“. While the U.S. keeps being the largest worldwide arms exporter by far.

Is it strange to insist upon all the powers to participate? 

In a National Interest article, it is stated that China has roughly 330 nuclear warheads while Russia and the U.S. have more than 6.000 each. Dr. Jeffery Lewis a doctor in policy studies has been quoted saying that bringing China up as a threat the way it has been done is non-sense, that the U.S. would if the threat was so real have acted long ago with allies in Asia. Yet for instance, SIPRI has portrayed the rise of China’s military complex to rival that of Russia. And the Business Insider claims that Chinese power has surpassed that of Russia in terms of overall military issues.

Why would INF a landmark of hope be meaningless?

Icelandic cooperation with China has increased in the later years. A bilateral free trade agreement was signed in 2015. An agreement is in place on a joint China-Iceland Aurora observatory. The Icelandic geothermal energy company Arctic Green Energy Corporation is working with China’s Sinopec to develop geothermal energy use in China for a cleaner future. Iceland has made a free trade agreement with China with other agreements on mutual cooperation. The Artic has been opening up with new possibilities for sailing shortening the route to Asia by many days, shifting the vantage point of how the world map is looked at. This shift also indicates a symbolism for changing the balance of power in the whole world. The Chinese embassy in Iceland can house up to a staff of 500 people when the next largest embassy there in the U.S. can potentially house a max of 70 people. All this in the country that houses glaciers, and volcanoes and is a harsh country hard to inhabit with only an app. 340 thousand people. Does the interest of China in Iceland’s cooperation show a changing world? Will China become a force for peace or does it hold other superpower ambitions? The Arctic plays an evermore important role because of water and other resources and in the opening up of the Arctic trade route. 

Economic realities and peace

Economic realities have been hitting walls in many places with record low-interest rates and high debts of nations.  Some as the Guardian columnist Gerg Jericho view the interest rates being low with optimism stating that states can borrow more at a lower cost, but it is harder to invest money at a return. Environmental realities play a part and many saturated markets. 

Is there a U.S. presidency’s method of “helping the economy” by turning the volume up on the military complex? Is that a method that has also been applied by Russia and China?

Do people really believe that increasing armament production and hostilities are the way towards prosperity when the global economic growth has peaked? In the U.S. there is an issue with public debt. Things are even worse for some of the Eurozone economies. While public finances in Russia have remained relatively stable. China still has a high GDP growth while it is slowing down. The Chinese have initiated measures to keep growth and exports high. They have increased spending on infrastructure but have an issue with non-financial corporate debt. There seems to be an issue with debt everywhere.

Need for a world reform of business

Uncertain tries of many decentralized players with transformations in money system structure is a symbol of the dire need everywhere. This appears in various electronic currencies and works on electronic monitory platforms. Both include high-level players in the global economy as seen in the work of the Linux Foundation regarding its Hyberledger. Another factor affecting business and worldwide economies is how to receive a return on investments with falling rates “everywhere”. Do all this worldwide uncertainty drive policymakers and world leaders towards trying to enact the past? To recreate Cold Wars?

In the American Prospect, Doris Goodwin wrote in the fall of 1992 about how WWII had given rise to social improvements in the USA, because of an overarching vision.  It has now been stated that economists have destroyed the myth that war is profitable. ”One thing is clear: If a new arms race begins, it will be expensive.”According to the New York Times: “ the Congressional Budget Office stated in January, the cost of nuclear upgrades has increased to $494 billion, or 87 times the amount Mr. Trump is seeking for his border wall.“

Ideas that created an economic collapse in the 14th century?

Are the world leaders hoping that installing ideas from the 14th century to fight the economic crisis will work now? Early state-like thinking to centralize power was characterized by increasing funds for armaments and war in the 14th century. This became crippling. Policies destroying friendship and trade within many economies in 14th century Europe led to economic downfall.

The case of U.S. military spending

Military spending matters in the overall U.S. economy in a way that is larger than for any other country including Russia or China. America’s weapons production is far greater. After WWII it was a no-brainer to convert factories in the U.S. that had been in armaments to produce civilian goods. The business case didn’t seem as good after the Korean War in the early 1950s. Civilian goods production shifted overseas making weaponry a bigger share in the U.S. factory output. In his first days, the current U.S. President called for a 10% increase in military spending. He has also asked NATO members to spend more on military issues. These policies are already having an effect in Iceland with new plans for increased U.S. military presence and expenditure with a starting investment of 57 million dollars in 2020. Will this if enacted domestically and worldwide lead the U.S. and other countries to apply such policies unto the path of no return regarding an economic collapse imitating 14th century Europe? 

Is nuclear an issue? 

Is there a forgetfulness of the horrors of Nagasaki or Hiroshima with generational changes? Are world leaders willing to face nuclear annihilation rather than the uncertainties of the economic future? Is it too hard to be creative in healthy ways regarding profits and the economy?

Or have we really entered the Age of Stupid – to quote the name of a “fictional” documentary. With leaders thinking less on the consequences of their actions and more on what to put on Twitter? Can it be that the people involved are very clever. Do we have a smokescreen to enforce justification for the added military expense? Or is there a justification? Who benefits from those added expenses and for how long?

Public concern

How can the general public know the truth when even for people involved in the political processes it is hard or impossible to really know what is going on? How hard that can be was exemplified in the American movie Vice that is based upon certain facts that are so catastrophic that the only way to portray the story is through humor.

Crossfire of blame?

The U.S. side claims that the Russians have been violating the INF agreement and the Russians have retaliated with similar claims. Sergey Lavrov the Russian Foreign Minister claims the U.S. has breached the provisions of the INF treaty since 1999. Also, the Russians have shown photographs of production facilities in the U.S. that were enlarged two years before the U.S. stated the Russians had breached the INF – indicating in their view production capacity showing that the U.S. had not planned to maintain the treaty. Foreign minister Lavrov also states that the U.S. has “not managed to produce any proof that the Russians violated the INF. “The Russian Foreign Ministry recalled that Moscow had raised the issue of US target missiles developed in violation of the INF Treaty since 1999 and strike drones — since the early 2000s. On the other hand, Washington began advancing claims regarding compliance with the accord to Moscow in 2013“. Strangely enough, seen in this context the U.S. intelligence community maintains that both countries are fully keeping their NEW START agreements – according to Jon Wolfsthal a former senior advisor to President Obama.

What is really going on?

John Bolton senior military strategy advisor to the U.S. Presidency has called the INF treaty a relic of the cold war. He has wanted talks with Russia to address the increased Chinese military powers. The Keflavík base in Iceland was considered by the U.S. to be “on the front line of the cold war”. Now both the U.S. and China have most recently shown very much increased interest in the country. The U.S. already has increased investment in Iceland and the Icelandic Foreign Ministry is reviewing the Chinese Belt and Road initiative as the Chinese push hard to expand it to Iceland.  Iceland will because of its few inhabitants and difficult natural environment acts its best to maintain peace with other countries, in fact, the country has no military of its own. Yet as a member of NATO, the country’s policies are contingent. The Chinese have started their regret regarding the U.S. leaving the INF agreement and despite their military capabilities transformation in recent years maintain that all their aims are peaceable. News out of China is that the Chinese maintain their position regarding nuclear being that their nuclear arsenal is limited and defensive in nature and further that “China opposes arms race and works to safeguard global strategic balance and stability“. U.S.-based military strategists point out that China has capabilities to pose a “risk to the Western Pacific”.Further that there indeed has been constant growth through investment in Chinese military capability including added emphasis on missiles and nuclear power.

“In addition, China will deploy the new CSS-NX-14/JL-2 SLBM on new 12-tube JIN Class SSBNs. This missile will, for the first time, allow Chinese SSBNs to target portions of the United States from operating areas located near the Chinese coast…The CJ-10 (DH-10) is the first of the Chinese Changjian series of long-range missiles and LACMs. It made its public debut during a military parade in 2009 and is currently deployed with the Second Artillery Corps.“

Can it be that as we have seen the Russians and the U.S. are both still adhering to the NEW START Agreement that the U.S. and perhaps even Russia are hoping that abandoning the INF agreement will pressure China towards the negotiation table or they may see China having grown so strong that they are acting out of fear of losing formerly perceived position? If the size of China’s arsenals are much smaller than those of the U.S. or Russia how could that be? Is that because with a certain type of missiles the Chinese arsenal is reputedly the largest in the world? Russians state they had initiated concern regarding that China should be included in the INF treaty 12 years ago. Apparently, the U.S. had started producing new missiles before revoking the INF contract – missiles of strategic importance that still might not have been exactly constrained by the contract as for instance some are designed to be deployed from the sea, so-called Trident missiles. One of the excuses proclaimed by U.S. professionals for the design of new nuclear weapons has been utilizing the process as bargaining pressure. NATO’s General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg gave a recent speech in Australia that is transcribed on the organizations’ web. There he acknowledges the concern regarding China as the main concern for the collapse of the INF. He states moderate optimism as he says that China can be worked with not wanting to label China or Russia a threat. NATO stands for the principle that if one member state is attacked all of the states consider it an attack. Stoltenberg further stated his view that China is needed in nuclear arms agreements for them to be effective. Mike Pence Vice President of the U.S. is just now visiting Iceland – Reuters quotes an “official” of the U.S. administration on that he is visiting to “have talked about ‘incursions’ into the Arctic Circle by China and Russia.“ 


1 Bell Susan, ‘Back on Thin Ice?’ USC, June 17, 2019,

2 International Atomic Energy Agency: (accessed August 8,2019)

3 Dr. Svetlana Savranskaya and Thomas Blanton editors, ‘The Reykjavík File’, National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 203Posted – October 13, 2006 (accessed August 8, 2019)

4 Ridgway, Rozanne. (accessed August 8, 2019)

5 Bandaríkjaher ver milljörðum í Keflavík, Visir newspaper Jun 21, 2019 (accessed September 3, 2019)

6 Framkvæmdir Bandaríkjahers skapa yfir 300 ársstörf, Visir newspaper August 14, 2019 (accessed September 3, 2019)

7 Framkvæmdir fyrir 3 milljarða hefjast í haust, The Icelandic National Broadcasting Service (RUV) (accessed September 3, 2019)

8 U.S. Strategic Command, B-2 Spirit Lands in Iceland August 29,2019 (accessed September 3, 2019)

9 Trevethick Joseph, The Drive, August 28, 2019 (accessed September 3, 2019)

10 Unnarsson, Kristján Már, Visir Newspaper September 2, 2019 (accessed September 3, 2019)

11 Gunnarsson, Valur Reykjavík Grapevine 2011 (accessed, August 8, 2019).

12 Countryman, Tom and Reif, Kingston, Warontherocks, August 13, 2009 (accessed September 3, 2019)

13 Office of the DIrector of National Intelligence, November 30, 2018 (accessed September 3, 2019)

14 TASS Russia, ‘Russia’s new missile does not violate INF treaty – Top brass’, January 23, 2019 (accessed September 3, 2019)

15 Reif, Kingston and Davenport, Kelsey, Warontherocks, October 12, 2017

16 TASS Russia, ‘China does not have as many nukes, as the US or Russia, says ambassador’, August 22, 2019 (accessed September 3, 2019)

17 Rose, Frank A. Brookings, February 12, 2019 (accessed September 3, 2019)

18 TASS RUSSIA, ‘Russia’s envoy slams Washington’s initiative on new nuclear deal’August 23, 2019 (accessed September 3, 2019)

19 Aljazeera, ‘Putin Warns New START nuclear arms treaty at risk’, June 6, 2019 (accessed September 3, 2019)

20 Wezeman, Simon T. SIPRI, July 5, 2017, (accessed September 3, 2019)

21 SIPRI,‘Asia and Middle East Lead Rise in Arms Imports..‘, February 22, 2016 (accessed September 3, 2019)

22 Kimball, Daryl, The National Interest, May 27, 2019 (accessed September 3, 2019)

23 Borger, Julian and Pengelly Martin, The Guardian, October 21, 2018 (accessed September 3, 2019)

24 See footnote 16.

25 Lockie, Alex, Business Insider, August 2, 2018 (accessed September 3, 2019)

26 Tatlow, Didi Kirsten, The New York Times, October 5, 2012 (accessed September 3, 2019)

27 UN, World Economic Situation and Prospects March 2019 Briefing nr. 124 (accessed September 3, 2019)

28 Jericho, Greg, The Guardian, May 27, 2019, (accessed September 3, 2019)

29 Centre for Research on Globalization, June 12, 2016, (accessed September 3, 2019)

30 Ibid

31 ibid

32 The Economist, ‘For how long can today’s global economic expansion last?’ (accessed September 3, 2019)

33 Hyperledger, (accessed September 3, 2019)

34 See footnote 28.

35 Goodwin, Doris, The American Prospect, Fall 1992, (accessed September 3, 2019)

36 See footnote 21.

37 Sanger, Edwin and Broad, J. William, The New York Times, February 1, 2019 (accessed September 3, 2019)

38 Congressional Budget Office, January 2019, (accessed September 3, 2019)

39 ibid

40 Rothbard, N. Murray, The Great Depression of the 14th Centurym Mises Institute, November 23, 2009, (accessed September 3, 2019)

41 See data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute:

42 Uchetielle, Louis, The New York Times, September 22, 2017 (accessed September 3, 2019)

43 Wolf, Z. Byron, CNN Politics, June 11, 2018 (accessed September 3, 2019)

44 RUV, Bandaríkjaher byggir fyrir milljarða á Íslandi,  June 21, 2019 (accessed September 3, 2019)

45 TASS Russia, ‘Mayors of Hiroshima, Nagasaki urge Russia and US to prevent INF collapse’, January 30, 2019 (accessed September 3, 2019)

46 Armstrong, Franney, Spanner Films, 2009 (accessed September 3, 2019)

47 McKay, Adam, Annapurna Pictures et al. 2018 (accessed September 3, 2019)

48 Pifer, Steven and Meier, Oliver, Arms Control Association, January/February 2018, (accessed September 3, 2019)

49 TASS Russia, ‘US has violated INF Treaty since 1999, Lavrov tells Putin’, February 2,2019 (accessed September 3, 2019)

50 TASS Russia, ‘Russian defense ministry says US started production of banned missiles two years ago’, February 2, 2019, (accessed September 3, 2019)

51 TASS Russia, ‘Top Russian diplomat blasts US for failing to furnish evidence for INF violations’, February 5, 2019, (accessed September 3, 2019)

52 Tass Russia,‘Russian Foreign Ministry says US has not responded to all Moscow‘s concerns on INF Treaty‘, February 11, 2019 (accessed September 3, 2019)

53 TASS Russia, ‘US steps to ruin INF Treaty will backfire on Washington – Senior Russian diplomat’, August 1, 2019 (accessed September 3, 2019)

54 TASS Russia, ‘US fails to prove Russia ‘breached’ INF, security chief says’, August 8, 2019, (accessed September 3, 2019)

55 TASS Russia, ‘Kremlin, Pentagon’s missile test indicates pre-planned strategy to enable INF’s collapse’, August 20, 2019, (accessed September 3, 2019)

56 Wolfstalh, Jon, Defense One, May 2, 2019 (accessed September 3, 2019)

57 Reuters,  ‘Trump advisor says wants U.S. – Russia strategic talks on Chinese threat‘, October 26, 2018, (accessed September 3, 2019)

58 Hopper, Tristin, ‘National Post’, March 26, 2013, (accessed September 3, 2019)

59 Hringbraut TV Iceland, May 12, 2019 (accessed September 3, 2019)

60 TASS Russia, ‘China: U.S. blames INF’s demise on Russia to get free hand in ramping up arms development’, August 6, 2019, (accessed September 3, 2019)

61 Xinhuanet, ‘Using China as excuse for U.S. leaving INF treaty  unacceptable – envoy’, August 23, 2019, (accessed September 3, 2019)

62 Sayers, Eric, Warontherocks, February 13, 2018, (accessed September 3, 2019)

63 Cordesman, Anthony H.,  Center for Strategic & International Studies,‘The PLA rocket force: Evolving beyond the Second Artilery Corps, and Nuclear dimension‘ , October 13, 2006, (accessed September 3, 2019)

64 ibid

65 Michael, Martina, ‘Reuters‘, August 6, 2019, (accessed September 3, 2019)

66 Graham Harrison, Emma, The Guardian, August 20, 2019 (accessed September 3, 2019)

67 Johnson, Jesse, The Japan Times, August 25, 2019, (accessed September 3, 2019)

68 See 33.

69 Ibid. 

70 Mehta, Aron, Defense News, February 6, 2018 (accessed September 3, 2019)

71 NATO speach transcript, August 8, 2019, (accessed September 3, 2019)

6 Reuters, ‘Pence, in visit to Iceland, to discuss ‘incursions’ into artic circle by China, Russia: official.’ August 28, 2019, (accessed September 3, 2019)

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