U.S. plans to close base in Italy that services nuclear submarines


World Digest

November 25, 2005

ROME -- The United States intends to close one of its two foreign naval bases that maintain nuclear submarines, a Navy spokesman confirmed yesterday.

The 33-year-old base at La Maddalena, off Sardinia, will close because of "military reshuffling," said Cmdr. Mark McDonald. "We're adjusting our forces to meet our current and future security needs," he said.

Italy's Defense Ministry announced the base closing this week, after Defense Minister Antonio Martino met with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld in Washington. An initial report Tuesday said only that nuclear submarines would leave the base. The announcement was amended Wednesday to say that the entire base "will be transferred to another country."

The decision has rippled through Italy, which is home to several U.S. military bases. Sardinian politicians say the base at La Maddalena hurts tourism. Environmental groups contend that it poses the risk of contaminating the water with radiation, especially after a nuclear submarine touched ground there in 2003. The Navy has said that no environmental damage occurred.

New York Times News Service

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