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NATO creates new centre, focuses on underwater assets
Brussels: The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) have created a new centre that will be focused on protecting undersea pipelines and data cables since concerns have been raised that Russia has mapped vital Western underwater infrastructure around Europe. This move by NATO is also followed by the former attack on the Nord Stream gas pipelines, Al Jazeera reported.
The new centre will be located at NATO's naval headquarters in Northwood near London. Moreover, it will be responsible for designing a new surveillance system to monitor parts of the Atlantic and areas in the North Sea, the Baltic Sea, the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea, according to Al Jazeera. NATO's Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said during a meeting in Brussels that the defence ministers of NATO members have approved plans for a NATO "maritime centre for the security of the critical underwater infrastructure."
Al Jazeera English is an international 24-hour English-language news channel owned by the Al Jazeera Media Network, owned by the government of Qatar. It is the first English-language news channel to be headquartered in Western Asia.
The initiative to protect the West's critical underwater infrastructure came in the wake of a reaction to the alleged acts of sabotage against the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipelines in September, as per Al Jazeera.
Last year, in September, Danish and Swedish officials said leaks have been identified in Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 under the Baltic Sea off the coast of Denmark's Bornholm island.
The former German three-star general Hans-Werner Wiermann said that "the threat is developing'. He explained that NATO was motivated to act following information that Russian ships had mapped critical infrastructure in the NATO alliance area.
He further told reporters at NATO headquarters, "Russian ships have actively mapped our critical undersea infrastructure. There are heightened concerns that Russia may target undersea cables and other critical infrastructure in an effort to disrupt Western life."
The former German general added that the new NATO centre would bring NATO members, allies and the private sector together to help "improve information-sharing about evolving risks and threats", reported Al Jazeera.
Around 8,000 km (5,000b miles) of oil and gas pipelines crisscross the North Sea alone, and the underwater data systems, networks and grids are impossible to monitor constantly. After chairing the meeting, Stoltenberg told reporters, "There's no way that we can have NATO presence along also these thousands of kilometres of undersea infrastructure."
"But we can be better at collecting ... intelligence, sharing information, connecting the dots, because, also in the private sector, there is a lot of information" about ship movements and maritime surveillance," he said.
The new centre and NATO allies will focus on high-risk areas such as pipelines in shallow waters that are accessible by drivers. Moreover, potential damage to data cables can be alleviated easily by simply dropping in more cables, according to Al Jazeera. (ANI)