Environmental Concerns over the Construction of MUOS: The Position of the Ministry of Defence


Pending an opinion of the Istituto Superiore della Sanità (National Health Institute), the Region of Sicily resorted to the precautionary principle under Article 191 TFEU and revoked its environmental authorizations for the construction of MUOS (a US military communication system) on its territory. On 22 May 2013, the Ministry of Defence, Mr. Mario Mauro, explained his Ministry’s decision to appeal against such revocation. He made reference to the duty to comply with the obligations undertaken by Italy under Article IX(3) of the London Agreement of 1951 between the Parties to the North Atlantic Treaty. Some excerpts from the Minister’s speech follow here below:

Article IX(3) of the Agreement between the Parties to the North Atlantic Treaty signed in London in 1951 and ratified by the legge [Act of Parliament] of 30 November 1955, n. 1335, in compliance with the North Atlantic Treaty, establishes that the authorities of the receiving State shall assume responsibility for making suitable arrangements to make available to a force or a civilian component the suitable buildings that it requires. Here, we deal with the obligation, undertaken by Italy, to guarantee to the allied States free access to and use of all the military installations they need. This necessarily implies up-dating activities and the development of the employed technologies, provided that the authorizations required by the Italian legislation are granted. This is the case of MUOS with respect to the existing transmission stations located in Niscemi. As a consequence, in case such realization is prevented by acts of revocations whose legality is doubtful, the Ministry of Defence might be obliged to refund the expenses that the counterpart, relying upon the agreement, has incurred for contracts. In this light, the Ministry of Defence, furthermore, has a direct interest in the realization of MUOS: in fact, when completed, it will be – provided that the approval of the Istituto Superiore di Sanità is given – a strategic system of satellite communication that the Italian armed forces will benefit from, in compliance with the principle of reciprocal assistance of the NATO system.

The original version of this statement can be found at:





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