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13 May, 2024 15:52

NATO’s newest member could host US nukes – PM

Sweden would accept nuclear weapons on its soil but only in the event of war, Ulf Kristersson has said
NATO’s newest member could host US nukes – PM

Sweden could potentially allow the US to station nuclear weapons on its territory, but only if the country is drawn into a military conflict, Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson has said.

In an interview with Sveriges Radio on Monday, Kristersson stressed that since joining NATO, the government has submitted two proposals to parliament, stating that Stockholm will not host permanent foreign troops or nuclear weapons in peacetime.

However, he said such prohibitions would be lifted if Sweden, which has not been at war since 1814, becomes part of an active military conflict. “In a war situation, it is a completely different matter,” the prime minister said, adding that “all of NATO benefits from the nuclear umbrella that must be in place in democratic states as long as Russia has its nuclear weapons.”

Kristersson also emphasized that it is up to Sweden to decide which foreign weapons – if any – would be stationed on its territory.

The premier’s comments come ahead of a June parliamentary vote on a Defense Cooperation Agreement with the US, which would give Washington access to Stockholm’s military bases.

Unlike its Nordic neighbors Finland and Norway, Sweden has no explicit ban on accepting nuclear arms, but maintains a long-standing policy against hosting such weapons in peacetime.

Critics have urged Stockholm to change its stance on the matter, warning that the lack of legislation on a complete ban of nukes could create problems in a critical situation, given Sweden’s NATO membership.

The US currently maintains nuclear weapons in five fellow NATO countries – Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Türkiye – as part of the bloc’s nuclear sharing program.

Sweden, along with Finland, applied to join the US-led military alliance shortly after the start of the Ukraine conflict. While Finland became a member state last year, Sweden did not officially join until March, with progress hampered by Hungary and Türkiye, which voiced grievances in bilateral relations.