• Sweden's news in English

Saudis toured 'top secret' Swedish army bunker

21 Mar 2012, 14:47

Published: 21 Mar 2012 14:47 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

In 2009, the Saudi delegation was given a tour of a Swedish Armed Forces (Försvarmakten) top secret command centre in Bålsta, north of Stockholm, the Expressen newspaper reported.

While Sweden's military brass had at first said no to the proposed visit, the Saudi officials were ultimately allowed to see the facility, from which Swedish troop movements would be controlled should the country find itself at war and to which access is extremely limited.

"Neither you nor I could get in there under any circumstances, but they were allowed in. It's unbelievable," a source from the Swedish Armed Forces told Expressen

A letter from the Swedish ambassador to Saudi Arabia at the time, Jan Thesleff, to the Saudi Royal Court, published on Wednesday in Expressen, states that "several underground facilities with different functions" were visited by the Saudi delegation.

The Swedish Armed Forces confirmed for the TT news agency that the top secret command centre in Bålsta was among the sites visited by the Saudis.

"Yes, that's right. The background is that the Swedish Fortifications Agency (Fortifikationsverket) made a request with the Swedish Armed Forces to carry out a visit to a facility in Bålsta," military spokesperson Erik Lagersten told TT.

Initially, the Armed Forces denied the request.

"But after an additional proposal from the Fortifications Agency, we reported this to the Government Offices according to existing rules," Latersten said.

"When foreigners visit what is referred to in military parlance as war command centres, the Government Offices must approve them. And they did [in this case]."

The visiting Saudi officials weren't allowed to visit any of the protected areas at the facility, however.

"We limited it to the earthen parts; to how you protect a facility," said Lagersten.

News of the Saudis' visit comes amid new reports detailing the nature of a weapons plant that the Swedish military reportedly planned to help build in Saudi Arabia.

According to Swedish technology magazine Ny Teknik, the planned factory was to be used to upgrade anti-tank missiles which the Saudi military previously had at its disposal.

Citing anonymous sources, the magazine reported that the missiles to be upgraded at the plant were part of Franco-German long-range anti-tank missile system known as HOT.

Story continues below…

The HOT missiles must undergo regular maintenance in order to remain dependable in combat situations.

In a memo from Jan-Erik Lövgren, deputy head of the Swedish Agency for Non-Proliferation and Export Controls (Inspektionen för strategiska produkter – ISP) to parliamentary committee which oversees Sweden's arms export controls, the project in Saudi Arabia was meant to "build up their domestic competence for maintaining as well as modifying anti-tank missile systems".

TT/The Local/dl


Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

15:34 March 21, 2012 by Svensksmith
Who is going to tour next, Al-Queida?
16:33 March 21, 2012 by truthworthy
So what? Saudis have money. they can buy you and the whole of Sweden.

Get over it.
16:58 March 21, 2012 by strixy
"There is no greater mistake than to suppose that platitudes, smooth words, and timid policies offer a path to safety."

"How many wars have been averted by patience and good will?"

"An appeaser is one who feeds the crocodile hoping it will eat him last."

Sir W. Churchill
17:39 March 21, 2012 by skogsbo
it's hardly likely to be Top Secret, even its inner most workings are probably only Secret at most. Beside it's not like they saw anything of interest to them. Is SA looking to invade, is anybody?
17:42 March 21, 2012 by RobinHood
Does the Swedish army have any secret in its "top secret army bunker" actually worth protecting from the Saudis?

The Saudi's have state of the art militiary hardware and command systems; mostly from the US, mostly the best and latest technology money can buy, and mostly, far more advanced than what the Swedes have.

I expect they found Sweden's cold war era bunker a bit basic for their tastes, but I'm sure they didn't say so, and smiled politely at all the tin cans connected by pieces of string.
17:45 March 21, 2012 by jostein
I see no harm in it, Saudi is hardly a military threat to sweden. And its not like the swedish army will protect the swedes anyhow, more probably the other way around.
17:51 March 21, 2012 by skogsbo
there is probably just lots of rooms set aside for meetings, then side rooms where they can form working groups. Fika facilities of course.
17:58 March 21, 2012 by Kevin Harris
The Saudis:

"Me and my squad of ultimate badasses will protect you! Check it out! Independently targeting particle beam phalanx. Vwap! Fry half a city with this puppy. We got tactical smart missiles, phase-plasma pulse rifles, RPGs, we got sonic electronic ball breakers! We got nukes, we got knives, sharp sticks..."

The Swedes:

"Me and Steffan here are the entire Swedish army and are also very naughty. Look here! We have two rusty tanks, an analog radio that doesn't work, a rifle - the other one got stolen, a million litres of pea soup, and we also have lots of knives and very sharp sticks …. would you like a pancake?
19:29 March 21, 2012 by eurobloke
Is it like the Swiss Federal Council's (essentially the Swiss government) nuclear bunker near Bern, or Vauxhall Tunnel which goes under the Thames, to Under-Whitehall part of Vauxhall House (home of MI6)?
19:56 March 21, 2012 by Vill
They better not have showed the Saudis the secret bunker where we store and reverse engineer the extraterrestrial vehicle that crashed in the Baltic.
20:46 March 21, 2012 by Children Of Adam
What is wrong to show them your bunker or what so ever?

US is taking advantage of them by selling to them old jet-fighters and giving the Israelis the newer versions and why not Sweden?

Just sell better weapons and make money, as long as you do not invade , mess or disrespect their religion or prophet, they will not be interested in messing around.
20:58 March 21, 2012 by swedejane
If Sweden finds itself at war that "secret" bunker will be about as useful as a fly swatter.
00:29 March 22, 2012 by blik
Well, the Sweds have a long proud history of hosting Saudi families.

It hosted a teenage Osama Bin Laden and his family in the seventies after all.

Sweden is on the verge of becoming an Islamic nation itself, so perhaps it is just trying to decide which fanaticial branch to emulate by seeing which ones get the bigest erection over seeing their top secreat facility
09:00 March 22, 2012 by phil23456
I bet Obama approved this first too.
13:27 March 28, 2012 by mcarroll1
There are so many secrets and top secrets in the Swedish Army that nobody knows what they all are or why they are so secret. The cold war is over but nobody told military intelligence and the military security buffoons who think everything is top secret. I dont think the Saudis are a threat to Sweden but you should check with Mil Security first. Only thing is they cant tell you cos its top secret.
Today's headlines
Sweden to keep record-low interest rate in 2017
Sweden's landmark negative interest rate will continue towards 2018. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

The Swedish central bank said that it will take longer than expected to reach its inflation target.

Presented by Stockholm University
9 unexpected study programmes at Stockholm University
Photo: Niklas Björling

Did you know Stockholm University offers 75 master's programmes taught in English? And some of them are programmes you won't find anywhere else...

Creepy clown messes with the wrong dog walker in Sweden
Not the clown in the story. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

A dog helped its owner fight off a creepy clown chasing the pair in southern Sweden.

A million Swedes are digitally excluded: report
How should Sweden bridge the digital divide? Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Tech-savvy Swedes? Perhaps not. A new study suggests that at least a million of its residents feel the pain of the digital divide.

Malmö's 19th Swedish title sets Champions hopes alight
Malmö fans celebrating after the match. Photo: Björn Lindgren/TT

Malmö FF have their eyes set on the Champions League after winning the Swedish league for the 19th time.

What's on in Sweden
Five great autumn events in Sweden this week
Jazz in northern Sweden. Photo: Umeå Jazz Festival

Food, music, movies and more food. What better way of helping yourself forget that the days are getting shorter and colder?

Here's how slow Sweden's high-speed trains are getting
A Swedish SJX2000 high speed train. Photo: Tomas Oneborg/SvD/TT

The high-speed rail journey between the three biggest Swedish cities is about to get longer.

The Local List
12 Swedish words with just awesome literal translations
A filthy-minded lobster, i.e. a snuskhummer. Photo: Gorm Kallestad/NTB scanpix/TT

One of our favourite things about the Swedish language is its wonderful compound words, which range from being utterly bizarre to making perfect sense.

US election
Donald Trump won't get new Ericsson head's vote
Trump pictured at a campaign rally in Florida. Photo: Evan Vucci/AP

The new Swedish-American boss of telecoms giant Ericsson has revealed he will not vote for the Republican nominee in the forthcoming US presidential election.

Swedes named fourth most gender equal in the world
A file photo of men and women pushing prams in Stockholm. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

Sweden has closed 81 percent of its overall gender gap according to the World Economic Forum.

Sponsored Article
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm
People-watching: October 26th
Sponsored Article
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
Sweden cuts 2016 refugee forecast
Is Game of Thrones coming to Sweden?
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Property of the week: Kungsholmen, Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Will Swedes soon be looking for fairtrade porn?
The Local Voices
'I simply don’t believe in nationality'
Why we're convinced Game of Thrones is based on Sweden
Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
People-watching: October 21st-23rd
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
People-watching: October 20th
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
Sponsored Article
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
People-watching: October 12th
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
jobs available