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‘We have no control over the plutonium’: agency

Published: 27 Apr 2012 08:06 GMT+02:00
Updated: 27 Apr 2012 08:06 GMT+02:00

When Sweden recently shipped plutonium to the US, foreign minister Carl Bildt said that it was to be destroyed. However, the agreements show that Sweden no longer has any control over what happens with the substance, according to a report by Sveriges Radio (SR).

“In reality we won’t ever know what happens to it. It is up to the US Department of Energy now,” said Lars Hildingsson of the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (Strålsäkerhetsmyndigheten) to SR.

According to the agency, the Americans had promised Sweden that they would destroy the plutonium.

“But the responsibility is no longer Sweden’s. We have no control of it any more,” Hildingsson told SR.

The plutonium, which Carl Bildt in March revealed had been shipped to the US “for final and safe disposal”, was allegedly shipped with utmost discretion from the shores of Sweden.

Bildt pointed to this cooperation as being a “concrete contribution” by Sweden in the efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear material.

According to the minister, Sweden’s cooperation should serve as support and inspiration to other countries.

Ultimately, he wrote in daily Dagens Nyheter (DN) at the time, it would hopefully lead to an international cooperation in terms of ridding the world of nuclear material.

“Together, we must do all we can to reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the world, to prevent the further spreading and so that they never, ever, shall be used,” Bildt wrote in DN.

However, according to the agency, the US has made no promises to destroy the plutonium, the signed agreements only mention a guarantee that the plutonium will not be used by the military.

However, Bildt told SR that he sees no reason to mistrust the Americans.

“It is the nature of international agreements that you place trust in one another. We have no reason to believe anything but that it will be destroyed in the manner we have agreed,” he said.

The agency further told SR that Sweden still retains a very small amount of the dangerous substance in the country. It had not been deemed safely packaged for transport to the US.

Both the ministry of the environment and the foreign ministry have been informed of this, the agency told SR, but Bildt told the broadcaster that he hadn't heard anything of any remaining plutonium in Sweden.

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Your comments about this article

08:43 April 27, 2012 by rabbemos
Interesting to see where this story goes and what happens to the plutonium.
10:04 April 27, 2012 by RobinHood
The Americans will use it to power the flux capacitors in their DeLorean sports car/time machines.
11:51 April 27, 2012 by OUIJA
"We have no control..." Sounds familiar
13:55 April 27, 2012 by rabbemos
@Robinhood, is this another attempt by Wikileaks to smear Sweden and America while revealing suppressed technology? ;-)
21:05 April 27, 2012 by tadchem
Given the way the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives deals with automatic weapons ("Operation Fast and Furious" - selling them by the thousands to Mexican drug lords!), I don't hold out much hope for valuable abd dangerous plutonium to handled wisely.
19:02 April 29, 2012 by proteasome
Lots of grumbling for no reason. Do people really think the US lacks material for weapons? They have too much sitting around from previous Russian-USA agreements. Swedish plutonium is going to sit around until the over-priced long delayed government conversion plant at Savannah River Site, near Aiken, S.C. can use it to make commercial nuclear fuel. Should be up and running but now maybe 4-5 years more delay. Might as well keep it all in one place and push the governments to convert it into a form that can not be made into weapons.
21:29 April 29, 2012 by Max Reaver
right, a typical rhetoric employed by swedish politicians... whenever responsibility is asked for, the politicians have no control over anything
14:49 May 1, 2012 by Prestonrobsun
Should have sent it to Sellafield to beturned into MOX.
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