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Sweden to help build Saudi arms plant: report

Sweden to help build Saudi arms plant: report

Published: 06 Mar 2012 08:58 GMT+01:00
Updated: 06 Mar 2012 10:15 GMT+01:00

The Swedish Defence Research Agency (Totalförsvarets forskningsinstitut, FOI) has been involved in a project to help build an advanced arms factory in Saudi Arabia, according to secret documents that have recently been made public.

According to the confidential documents reviewed by Svergies Radio (SR) the project was launched in 2007 and contains plans to build 35 buildings.

SR claimed as well that the Swedish government had knowledge of the project, referred to in the documents as Simoom.

FOI head Jan-Olof Linde, however, denied the report, and stated repeatedly that such a plan does not exist.

“Today we have no ongoing projects with that country, so I have no comments because we don’t have any project,” Linde said to SR.

When probed further, Linde remained staunch.

“The answer is no. Really! Don’t you hear what I’m saying,” he told SR.

Jan Erik Lövgren of the Swedish Agency for Non-Proliferation and Export Controls (ISP), stated however that the FOI still has plans involving Saudi Arabia.

“I understand that there is some form of dialogue with the Saudis,” he said.

Dick Sträng, who led the project until 2010, also said the information was correct and that the government had complete knowledge of the project.

According to the documents reviewed by SR, it is clear that FOI was to take the lead on the construction of the plant with the help of several Swedish companies.

In early 2008, the government didn't want FOI to have responsibility for the construction because of the sensitivity of the matter.

But the Saudis still wanted FOI, rather than a private company, to lead the work, and felt deceived by the attempt to take FOI off the project.

In an attempt to resolve the situation, FOI created a company, Swedish Security Technology and Innovation (SSTI), what was meant to serve as a front company for dealings with the Saudis and was represented by the same people who had previously led the project.

On paper, SSTI is a private company without any ties to public agencies in Sweden and thus didn't need to seek approval from the government.

The radio station claimed that the secret government documents stated that the project “pushes the boundaries of what is possible for a Swedish agency," according to SR.

Prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt commented on the report during a press conference on Tuesday morning.

"We've had an agreement with Saudi Arabia since 2005, and we have a system in Sweden whereby we continue to abide by such agreements when a government changes," Reinfeldt told reporters.

"The government is responsible for ensuring that all the laws and regulations are in place and are followed and I am operating under the assumption that the responsible agencies have abided by the law."

Reinfelt refused, however, to comment on any details of the report, citing that most of the related material is classified.

Meanwhile, Green Party spokesperson Gustav Fridolin issued a statement announcing his party was reporting defence minister Sten Tolgfors to the Riksdag's committee on the constitution (Konstitutionsutskottet – KU).

"The committee on the constitution needs to examine whether the defence minister's actions are in line with Sweden's democratic priniciples and Sweden's stance on human rights," said Fridolin.

According to Fridolin, Sweden's cooperation with Saudi Arabia is neither good for democratic development nor for Swedish interests.

"Sweden shouldn't ruin its good reputation by supporting military dictatorships," he said.

The Local/og (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

11:56 March 6, 2012 by Cephalectomy
this and other swedish actions like sending soldiers to other countries and helping with the planes, doesnt make swedish as the old neutral country, it will surely and sadly increase terrorism.

think before you do this kind of stuff Sweden :(
11:57 March 6, 2012 by CJ from Sunshine Desserts
So what, its business ! Thats what pays for the welfare state in Sweden. Svenska Freds are misguided, deluded people if they think they can affect this deal. Even if SA is not a democracy put things into perspective, 60 years ago it was a peasant country, now also they have not made war on anyone, in general they are a stable country compared to Iran, Iraq. They have good relations with the US & Britain, OK they object in principle to Israel. Fact is we need their oil money, we need to do business with them as they have a fat wallet, end of story. Change will come to Saudi Arabia eventually...in maybe 100 years when the oil has ran out. No one cares internationally what Sweden says/does...for some Swedes the penny has not dropped yet !
12:47 March 6, 2012 by Max Reaver
@CJ

I agree with some of what you said.

However, the way I see it, this debate is not about the business, but rather the image of Sweden as some people (mostly Swedes) see it. Sweden has desperately tried to preserve its image as the pure, humanitarian, politically-correct gooddoer all these years. But building arms factory in a country with questionable politics while trying to stay clean, is much like a prostitute declaring herself a virgin. Obviously you can't both have the cake and eat it. And it's the latter point that many ppl react to
13:21 March 6, 2012 by Migga
Sweden is neutral. Neutral means that you don`t take sides. That means during both war and while in peace. If Sweden want to be considerd neutral they can`t only trade with the west. They also need to trade with the east. That`s what it means to be neutral. Sweden is true to it`s words.
13:25 March 6, 2012 by glenquagmaire
Okay, that is a new face of Sweden!!
13:29 March 6, 2012 by apelsin000
I thought neutral means to keep good relationships with both sides :)
13:35 March 6, 2012 by CJ from Sunshine Desserts
Check out the latest episode of "pappas pengar". on SVTplay....the father explains how the family made it`s fortune to his son...kind of mirrors this weeks revelations....as I said that`s business.
13:40 March 6, 2012 by isenhand
Sweden is not neutral, not has it been since 1995! The Swedish government has officially dropped the policy. Sweden has made a commitment to defend Nordic countries and the EU (as in it will act militarily). It heads up one of Europe's battle groups.

Sweden is non-aligned, meaning it has not joined a military alliance.
14:11 March 6, 2012 by Cephalectomy
@Migga you are taking side

there are 2 sides in the middle east irak/iran/syria/lebanon and the rest of the sunni world.

if you support saudi arabia you are against iran and the other way around
14:47 March 6, 2012 by isenhand
for more on Swedish neutrality see : F.Fulya Tepe, "Swedish neutrality and its abandonment". Which gives a good overview of Sweden's neutrality policy and the process of its abandonment.

http://www.iticu.edu.tr/yayin/dergi/s11/M00167.pdf
16:16 March 6, 2012 by motti
Neutrality is exporting to both the UK and Nazi Germany during WWII and allowed the latters troops access from Norway to Finland

Sweden has never traded with Israel or even exported arms to Israe, yet it has done to the Arab world. fair enough. But then don't say Sweden is neutral. It never has been

Swedish neutrality is a myth, just like your trolls and always has been.
17:42 March 6, 2012 by SockRayBlue
Interesting to see Saudi money has gotten the proverbial camel's nose under the tent. A very odd way to see the coming corruption of the West. Just another way of obfuscating Sweden's neutrality.
18:16 March 6, 2012 by Beavis
so when Swedish soldiers get killed or mamed in Afghanistan etc by the taliban, they can read on the ammunition that killed them "Made in Sweden".. where do you think the taliban get their money/weapons..
03:20 March 7, 2012 by TheWatchman
Sweden has never been a truly neutral country, let's be honest.
03:58 March 7, 2012 by muscle
The word Neutral: To be equal from all sides!

So, either dont sell weapons to anyone, or sell everyone the weapons :)

I wonder how come Sweden never sold weapons to Taliban or Alqaeda, Is it because Talibans and alqaeeda are not a state right now? or is it because sweden forgot its definition of being Neutral?

Or perhaps Sweden did, and we will find out after years, with the govt, as usual in many countries, apologizing for supporting criminals in the past or making wrong decisions based on false facts (such as nukes in iraq, and now iran )
07:01 March 7, 2012 by Greysuede
If Swedes don't do it others will do.

The things like moral and neutrality lectures should be left for students in London universities. After all, Saudi is entitled to protect themselves from Britain, Israel and Iran.
10:17 March 7, 2012 by OUIJA
Swedish neutrality? Why don't you ask to the Norwegians? Why don't you ask to the Wallenbergs and Co.?

As @motti writes at#11: "Swedish neutrality is a myth, just like your trolls and always has been."

@migga #4

As usual, your typing is faster than the velocity of your brains. If you sell weapons, sales should be made to everybody and not only to countries fighting another or helping another to fight a third one.
16:21 March 9, 2012 by Samir S. Halabi
It's a wonder Sweden doesn't build a weapons factory in Iran.

I'm sure they would like to see the demise of Israel! the way Jews are treated today in Sweden especially in Malmo.

The difference being that thank G-d Israel is a power to be reckoned with in the world today, therefore if Iran who has sworn to annihilate Israel will in fact fire any long range rockets over to Israel, that will be the last thing that those Islamic Fascist-Nazi bastards will ever do, as the Israeli retaliation will be so severe that that verminous Islamic Republic will take generations to get over.
16:59 March 9, 2012 by zoroastrina
I more or less agree with Max Reaver. Goddamn the weapons business. The human race is characterized by an innate viciousness. Some of those who have shot off their mouths above know nothing about a transcendent value rationality. If they do appreciate the distinction between value and instrumental rationality, they would always prefer the latter. Value rationality has effectively been abolished. I wonder about Reinfeldt's ethics.
12:16 March 10, 2012 by Danish Voice
It's said that in every international conflict, there are always at least two Swedish canons involved, one on each side.

However, not in the Arab/Israeli conflict.
02:47 March 14, 2012 by No Haram Done
Beloved Sverige!

It's actually MARCH, NINETEEN-FORTY...NOT 2012!

The "Phoney War" is ABOUT TO END!

Our (the World's) mortal peril is nigh!
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