Sweden accepts ‘essential role of nuclear weapons’ in Nato letter

Sweden has accepted "the essential role of nuclear weapons" in Nato's approach to defence, in a letter requesting admission to the alliance, sparking controversy in the country.

Sweden accepts 'essential role of nuclear weapons' in Nato letter
Sweden's foreign minister Ann Linde signs Nato's accession protocol on July 5th. Photo: Wiktor Nummelin /TT

Sweden’s state broadcaster SVT on Monday evening published a full copy of the letter Ann Linde, Sweden’s foreign minister, sent to Nato’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on July 5th, in which she formally confirmed her government’s “interest in receiving an invitation for Sweden to accede to the North Atlantic Treaty of 1949”. 

“Sweden accepts Nato’s approach to security and defence, including the essential role of nuclear weapons,” the letter, which can be read here in full, reads, adding that it “intends to participate fully in Nato’s military structure and collective defence planning processes, and is willing to commit forces and capabilities for the full range of Nato missions.” 

The clause will alarm those who were already uncomfortable with how Nato membership will clash with Sweden’s historical efforts to promote nuclear disarmament. 

As recently as 2019, Sweden launched the Stockholm Initiative for Nuclear Disarmament, through which 16 non-nuclear nations sought, among other goals, to “diminish the role of nuclear weapons in security policies and doctrines”. 

Sweden also committed to contributing its share — set at 1.9277% — of Nato’s budget, which is equivalent, William Alberque at the Institute for Strategic Studies, told SVT to about 700 million kronor (€65m). 

“In other words, Sweden is now prepared to take part in the use of nuclear weapons,” tweeted Beatrice Fihn, Executive Director of the International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons, which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017. 

Member comments

  1. I think Swedes need to be realistic and accept that NATO is a nuclear armed defensive alliance (with the nuclear part provided mostly by the US). In the view of its members, nuclear deterrence is the only likely effective path to take against a potential (actual now!) aggressor with heavy nuclear armaments, both strategic and tactical.

    Sweden for many years has chosen to avoid involvement with nuclear deterrence and has pursued its own path alone. Now it is choosing to join forces with NATO and although it can avoid having nuclear weapons on its own territory, it must accept the reality of what NATO is and what kind of defensive posture it has. Either that or decide to remain outside, but still hopefully cooperative with NATO.

    It is a sad commentary on the state of world affairs that Sweden feels it has been compelled to come to this decision. As an American with deep Swedish connections, I can say that my nation would love to get out from under the burden of being the nuclear deterrent back-up for the defense of the West! Any other nations out there willing to assume that burden? Probably not!

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US Senate ratifies Sweden’s entry to Nato

The US Senate ratified the entry of Sweden and Finland into Nato Wednesday, strongly backing the expansion of the transatlantic alliance in the face of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

US Senate ratifies Sweden's entry to Nato

The Senate voted 95 to 1 in favour of the two Nordic countries’ accession, making the United States the 23rd of the 30 Nato countries to formally endorse it so far, after Italy approved it earlier Wednesday and France on Tuesday. President Joe Biden hailed the Senate’s quick ratification process — the fastest since 1981.

“This historic vote sends an important signal of the sustained, bipartisan US commitment to Nato, and to ensuring our Alliance is prepared to meet the
challenges of today and tomorrow,” Biden said in a statement.

The sole opponent was Republican Josh Hawley, who agreed that the United States should focus on protecting its homeland, but that Washington should concentrate on the challenge from China rather than Europe.

One senator, Republican Rand Paul, voted “present” rather than endorsing or opposing the motion. Senate leader Chuck Schumer said it was a signal of Western unity after Moscow launched a war on Ukraine on February 24.

“This is important substantively and as a signal to Russia: they cannot intimidate America or Europe,” Schumer said. “Putin has tried to use his war in Ukraine to divide the West. Instead, today’s vote shows our alliance is stronger than ever.” 

All 30 members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation must agree if Finland and Sweden, officially non-aligned but longtime adjunct partners of
the alliance, are admitted. According to a Nato list, seven member countries have yet to formally agree to the new double-entry: the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and Turkey.

Only Turkey has raised a challenge, demanding certain concessions from Finland and Sweden to back their memberships.

Ankara has demanded the extradition of dozens of government opponents it labels “terrorists” from both countries in exchange for its support.

Turkey said on July 21 that a special committee would meet Finnish and Swedish officials in August to assess if the two nations are complying with
its conditions.