NATO chief tours Canada's arctic defenses

STORY: The two leaders spent the day meeting with researchers, military personnel and local officials at the North Warning System radar station in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut.

Cambridge Bay is a hamlet in the far north and one of the main stops for vessels traversing the Arctic Ocean's Northwest Passage between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

"As we face a changing world with new geopolitical threats, strategically, the Arctic becomes more and more important," Trudeau said.

On Friday (August 26), Stoltenberg and Trudeau will travel to a Canadian jet fighter base in Cold Lake, Alberta, to discuss plans to modernize NORAD, the joint U.S.-Canadian North American defense organization, the statement said.

Stoltenberg has made trips to Europe's Arctic this year, mainly to show support for Finland and Sweden's bid to join the alliance. Nearly 40% of Canada's land mass is considered Arctic, while Russia stretches over 53% of the Arctic Ocean coastline, according to the Arctic Council.

"Very soon, seven out of eight Arctic nations will be NATO members and that just increases the importance of the Arctic for the alliance," Stoltenberg said.

In June, Canada said it would invest C$4.9 billion ($3.8 billion) over the next six years to modernize NORAD, which experts say is in dire need of upgrades. The more-than-six-decade-old system detects security threats to North America, and its early-warning radar for the polar region dates back to the late 1980s.