BERLIN (AFP) – Germany and Norway want to start a NATO-led alliance to protect critical underwater infrastructure, their leaders said on Wednesday, weeks after explosions hit two key gas pipelines in the fallout from the war in Ukraine.
“We are in the process of asking the NATO Secretary General to set up a coordination office for the protection of underwater infrastructure,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told a press conference in Berlin.
“We take the protection of our critical infrastructure very seriously and nobody should believe that attacks will remain without consequences,” he said.
Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store said the alliance would be “an informal initiative to exchange between civilian and also military actors” with NATO providing “a centre, a coordination point”.
Underwater cables and pipelines were “arteries of the modern economy” and it was necessary to create “a coordinated joint effort to ensure security for this infrastructure”, he said.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who is in Berlin for a security conference, welcomed the joint proposal later on Wednesday.
“NATO has been working for many years to secure our undersea infrastructure,” he said.
“We have stepped up our efforts after the recent sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines, and it is vital to do even more to ensure that our offshore infrastructure remains safe from future destructive acts.”
The Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines off the Danish island of Bornholm were targetted by two huge explosions at the end of September.