A US missile base under the Greenlandic ice cap has become a major stumbling block in the relationship between the US, Greenland and Denmark.
According to Politiken, the base – named Camp Century – was created as part of the US’s top-secret missile defence against the Soviet Union. It was closed 50 years ago, but large amount of pollutants remain at the site, including an estimated 200,000 litres of diesel fuel, low-level radioactive waste from a nuclear reactor and other chemical and toxic waste.
A scientific paper released in August stated that climate change is about to melt the ice and reveal the base, and Greenland has demanded that Denmark insist that the US clean up its mess once and for all.
A messy situation
Kristian Jensen, the Danish foreign minister, said that he will launch an investigation, but that was not enough to satisfy Greenland’s home rule government.
“If Denmark is not willing from its side to accommodate our wishes, Greenland will have to raise the matter through the appropriate international bodies,” reads a letter that Politiken has seen from Vittus Qujaukitsoq, Greenland’s foreign affairs minister.
Qujaukitsoq’s letter mentions two UN conventions and declarations regarding the rights of indigenous peoples. The two ministers are to meet next Thursday in Nuuk to discuss the matter.
US digging in
Rasmus Gjedssø Bertelsen, a professor of political science at the University of Tromsø who has studied Arctic policy and statehood, said that Denmark is stuck between a rock and a hard place because the US will be “hard as flint” in its position not to do a cleanup.