Sardinians protest over plans for US naval base

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The Independent Online

Opponents of the American military presence in Italy have launched a campaign of protest against new construction at a nuclear submarine base in Sardinia where there was a serious accident last autumn.

Opponents of the American military presence in Italy have launched a campaign of protest against new construction at a nuclear submarine base in Sardinia where there was a serious accident last autumn.

The American navy earlier this month presented military authorities in Sardinia with a plan for what they described as "infrastructural improvement" of the base on the island of La Maddalena, off the north-east tip of Sardinia.

The plan foresees the construction of a 52,000 cubic- metre complex of buildings on one of the most beautiful coasts in Italy, a little to the north of where Silvio Berlusconi has an enormous holiday villa. The Russian President, Vladimir Putin, has also reportedly bought land on the coast.

The Americans want to demolish old buildings and replace them with new ones to provide "more adequate living and working conditions" for naval personnel.

The American presence on La Maddalena was approved in 1972 by the government of Giulio Andreotti. The terms of the agreement have never been made public. Left-wingers and pacifists have long opposed it and it has also attracted the fury of local people and local and provincial governments, who fear accidents.

In October a nuclear submarine, the USS Hartford, ran aground offshore and rudders, sonar and other electronic equipment were damaged. The commander and his squadron commander were sacked.

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