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SWEDISH-SAUDI ARMS DEAL

MILITARY

Saudis toured ‘top secret’ Swedish army bunker

The Swedish government approved a tour by a delegation from Saudi Arabia to a top secret military facility outside of Stockholm after the Armed Forces initially rejected the visit.

Saudis toured 'top secret' Swedish army bunker

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.

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

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NATO

Turkey forms ‘permanent committee’ to assess Swedish Nato deal

Turkey on Thursday said a new "permanent committee" would meet Finnish and Swedish officials in August to assess if the two nations are complying with Ankara's conditions to ratify their Nato membership bids.

Turkey forms 'permanent committee' to assess Swedish Nato deal

Finland and Sweden dropped their history of military non-alignment and announced plans to join Nato after Russia invaded Ukraine at the end of
February. All 30 Nato members must ratify the accession.

Nato member Turkey has demanded the extradition of dozens of suspected “terrorists” from both countries under an accession deal the three signed last month.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to “freeze” the process over Sweden and Finland’s failure to extradite the suspects.

He accuses them of providing a haven for outlawed Kurdish militants. “If these countries are not implementing the points included in the
memorandum that we signed, we will not ratify the accession protocol,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu reaffirmed in a televised interview.

He said the committee would meet in August but provided no details.Turkey’s parliament has broken for its summer recess and will not be able
to hold a ratification vote before October. Some Turkish officials have warned that the process may drag out until next year.

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