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Greenland goes nuclear weapon-free

Roy McFarlane — December 1984

The government of Greenland declared their country a nuclear weapons-free zone, according to a report from the Reuter wire service, published in the Ottawa Citizen.

Greenland is now the largest landmass in the world declared a NWFZ. The declaration, made in mid-November, came as a surprise to the Danish government, the report said. Denmark is responsible for the defense of their former territory, which attained self-government five years ago. There are two American air force bases in Greenland as well as three DEW lines sites.

Mariane Stienbaek, Director of the Centre for Northern Studies at McGill University, and Co-ordinator of the Communications Committee of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference (ICC) told The Peace Calendar that the declaration is a result of a series of resolutions passed by the ICC. The ICC, an international organization of Inuit, first passed a unanimous resolution in 1977 calling for nuclear weapons free zones in the North. The resolption was reaffirmed at subsequent conferences in 1980 and 1983, according to Stienbaek. Approximately 80% of the Greenland population is Inuit, and all but one of the Landsting (Parliament) is Inuit.

Stienbaek said she had no information on how the NWFZ declaration would affect the two American bases, but suggested that it meant that there could be no nuclear weapons taken there and that no planes could fly over the country carrying nuclear weapons. From the reports that she has seen, Stienbaek expects the Greenland government will now proceed to work out the details with the Danish External Affairs Department.