A Top Secret document shows the extensive cooperation between the Norwegian Intelligence Service (NIS) and the US National Security Agency (NSA). It confirms and specifies that Norway is conducting surveillance on Russia and that the NIS is sharing intelligence information with the NSA.
The NIS provides the NSA with information on:
NSA is one of the largest intelligence services in the USA, and has global reach. Dagbladet has gained access to the document, leaked by the whistleblower Edward Snowden, and is today presenting parts of it´s content. This article is written in cooperation with journalist Glenn Greenwald, who is known worldwide because of his access to the many documents leaked by Snowden.
The document has a «Top Secret» classification and is dated April 17th this year. It is signed by a leading official at the NSA's Norway Desk and is apparently written shortly after an annual planning conference between the two agencies, which was completed on March 7th this year.
The document reveals the extent of the cooperation between the Norwegian intelligence service and the NSA. Surveillance of Russia is a major part of this.
The document presents lists of what intelligence information the NIS provides to NSA and vice versa, and also mentions several «success stories» from the cooperation.
The Norwegian Intelligence Service confirms the authenticity of the document, but stresses that it represents the Americans' point of view:
- The document in Dagbladets possession is an internal NSA document that the NIS has not seen before. It is a description of how the NSA views Norwegian intelligence capabilities, Norwegian intelligence targets and the cooperation between the NIS and NSA. The document is clearly written by an American official, and the NIS wouldn't necessarily endorse all of the descriptions, says the head of NIS, general Kjell Grandhagen, to Dagbladet.
Monitoring politicians One part of the memo is titled «What the partner provides to NSA». Among the bullet points, it mentions:
• «Access to Russian targets in the Kola Peninsula»
• «Reports on Russian civilian targets of mutual targets, particularly Russian energy policy»
Under the heading «success stories», NSA states that the agency is working together with the NIS to «expand and deepen the intelligence exchange, focusing on report sharing and target development on Russian political, natural resources and energy issues (...)».
The NSA document do not reveal the exact information that has been collected or the details of what and who the exact targets are, but Dagbladet's sources confirm that the NIS is conducting surveillance against politicians in Russia.
Norway and Russia both have great oil and gas interests in the North, and each of the two countries have large state-owned energy companies. However, the NIS says to Dagbladet that this the surveillance conducted on Russia is not industrial espionage.
In Norway The document shows that Norway has extensive access to information on Russian intelligence services from different sources. The NIS is providing information on this to the NSA.
«What NSA provides to the partner» is one of the subtitles in this document, heading a list of bullet points. The list reveals that Norway gets information on Russian counter-intelligence operations in Norway from the NSA. The document does not provide any details on what kind of operations these are or how the information is provided.
The US and Norwegian intelligence agencies also exchange reports, technical data and analytical expertise on Russian military and civilian targets.
Strategic importance According to the NSA document, the cooperation between the NIS and NSA started in 1952 and has been expanding since.
The Norwegian Intelligence Service has several times expressed their views on why surveillance in the High North is necessary, last in a recent, unclassified threat assessment from the NIS called «Fokus 2013», published in March this year. The areas are of great geopolitical, strategic and economic importance for both Russia and Norway, much because of the abundance of natural resources. The Russian economy is heavily dependent on oil.
Growing military activity Despite the fact that The Cold War is over, the armament of the Russian military forces is increasing. The Russians conduct extensive weapons systems training, including flying bombers along the Norwegian coast. On the Kola Peninsula, only 200 miles (30 metric miles) from the Norwegian city of Vardø, several strategic submarines are stationed at one of Russia´s most important military bases.
The Russian military budget grows faster than other sectors in the Government budget. Because of this Norway's intelligence services keep a keen outlook on Russian economic policies and energy politics.
The head of the NIS has formerly stated that they are using all available assets in keeping an eye on the High North. The mission of the intelligence service is not restricted to purely military objects of interest, but is to work within all areas of interest to Norwegian government.
Therefore, all branches of the government, such as the Oil and Energy Ministry, may order information from the NIS.
Oil and gas Norway and Russia both have large interests in oil and gas in the High North, and the two countries both export energy to Europe on a large scale. What Russian energy politicians are doing, is therefore of great interest to Norwegian government.
In a meeting between Jonas Gahr Støre (Labour Party) and the EU's energy secretary Günter Oettinger in Brussels in March last year, the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs at that time made clear that Norway is reaching for a «deeper understanding of Russian politics» - according to a summary that Dagbladet obtained.
- We are currently evaluating the developments in the High North, in light of new discoveries and increased activity. Today gas is transported from the region as LNG (Liquid natural gas) on ships. The solutions of the future are uncertain, Støre said.
- New gas discoveries may change the picture - and what happens on Russian side will also be of great importance.
This article is translated from Norwegian by Martine Aurdal.