14 June 2017

On a tiny Norwegian island, America keeps an eye on Russia

By Dan Drollette Jr

On a tiny island in the farth northeast of Norway, the local power company has noted a “mysterious” surge in electricity demand. The need for power has grown so fast that it began laying down a thick new cable under the frigid waters that separate the island of Vardo from the Norwegian mainland.

The reason for all that extra electrical demand? A new, American-funded radar system under construction on the island, which is in sight of the Kola Peninsula—where Russia has a large number of high-security naval bases. Snooping on Russia’s expanding fleet of nuclear submarines in the Barents Sea is a business that is fluorishing in this part of the Arctic. And Putin does not seem happy about it; at least one Norwegian military figure says that Vardo is now a high-value target, likely to be the first place to be attacked by Russia in a crisis.

Officially, however, the new facility, known as Globus 3, is just being erected in order to track space debris, such as defunct satellites.

But physicist Theodore Postol, an MIT professor whose expertise is in ballistic missile defense technology, said putting a high-powered radar like Globus 3 in Vardo “makes no sense if the main goal is tracking space junk.” He told the New York Times that a far more likely role was monitoring Russian missiles.

Publication Name: 
New York Times