Defense of Iceland: Agreement Between the United States and the Republic of Iceland, May 5, 1951(1)
Art 1 Art 2 Art 3 Art 4 Art 5 Art 6 Art 7 Art 8


Having regard to the fact that the people of Iceland cannot themselves adequately secure their own defenses, and whereas experience has shown that a country's lack of defenses greatly endangers its security and that of its peaceful neighbors, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has requested, because of the unsettled state of world affairs, that the United States and Iceland in view of the collective efforts of the parties to the North Atlantic Treaty to preserve peace and security in the North Atlantic Treaty area, make arrangements for the use of facilities in Iceland in defense of Iceland and thus also the North Atlantic Treaty area. In conformity with this proposal the following Agreement has been entered into.


The United States on behalf of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and in accordance with its responsibilities under the North Atlantic Treaty will make arrangements regarding the defense of Iceland subject to the conditions set forth in this Agreement. For this purpose and in view of the defense of the North Atlantic Treaty area, Iceland will provide such facilities in Iceland as are mutually agreed to be necessary.


Iceland will make all acquisitions of land and other arrangements required to permit entry upon and use of facilities in accordance with this Agreement, and the United States shall not be obliged to compensate Iceland or any national of Iceland or other person for such entry or use.


The national composition of forces, and the conditions under which they may enter upon and make use of facilities in Iceland pursuant to this Agreement, shall be determined in agreement with Iceland.


The number of personnel to be stationed in Iceland pursuant to this Agreement shall be subject to the approval of the Icelandic Government.


The United States in carrying out its responsibilities under this Agreement shall do so in a manner that contributes to the maximum safety of the Icelandic people, keeping always in mind that Iceland has a sparse population and has been unarmed for centuries. Nothing in this Agreement shall be so construed as to impair the ultimate authority of Iceland with regard to Icelandic affairs.


The Agreement of October 7, 1946, between the United States and Iceland for interim use of Keflavik Airport (2) shall terminate upon the coming into force of this Agreement whereupon Iceland will assume direction of and responsibility for civil aviation operations at Keflavik Airport. The United States and Iceland will negotiate appropriate arrangements concerning the organization of the Airport to coordinate the operation thereof with the defense of Iceland.


Either Government may at any time, on notification to the other Government, request the Council of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to review the continued necessity for the facilities and their utilization, and to make recommendations to the two Governments concerning the continuation of this Agreement. If no understanding between the two Governments is reached as a result of such request for review within a period of six months from the date of the original request, either Government may at any time thereafter give notice of its intention to terminate the Agreement, and the Agreement shall then cease to be in force twelve months from the date of such notice. Whenever the contingency provided for in Articles 5 and 6 of the North Atlantic Treaty shall occur, the facilities, which will be afforded in accordance with this Agreement, shall be available for the same use. While such facilities are not being used for military purposes, necessary maintenance work will be performed by Iceland or Iceland will authorize its performance by the United States.


After signature by the appropriate authorities of the United States and Iceland, this Agreement, of which the English and Icelandic texts are equally authentic, shall come into force on the date of receipt by the Government of the United States of America of a notification from the Government of Iceland of its ratification of the Agreement. DONE at Reykjavik, this fifth day of May, 1951.

(1) TIAS 2266; 2 UST 1195. An annex to this agreement was signed, May 8, 1951, regulating the status of United States personnel and property in Iceland under the defense agreement (TIAS 2295; 2 UST 1533). Back

(2) TIAS 1566; 61 Stat., pt. 3, p. 2426. Back

American Foreign Policy 1950-1955
Basic Documents Volumes I and II
Department of State Publication 6446
General Foreign Policy Series 117
Washington, DC : U.S. Governemnt Printing Office, 1957
127 Wall Street, New Haven, CT 06511.