Swedish PM Kristersson says he's open to hosting nuclear arms in wartime

Nuclear weapons are barred from Sweden in peacetime, but wartime is 'a completely different matter'

Sweden's Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said defence 'against countries that could threaten us with nuclear weapons' was vital but in a 'worst-case scenario'. EPA
Powered by automated translation

Nuclear weapons could be allowed on Swedish soil in wartime, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said as he faced calls from critics to ban their presence.

The US could be given access to military bases in Sweden and be allowed to store military equipment and weapons in the Scandinavian country, with the Swedish Parliament set to vote on a Defence Co-operation Agreement in July.

Sweden joined Nato in March, abandoning two centuries of military non-alignment.

Calls have increased in recent weeks, from the Swedish Peace and Arbitration Association among others, for the government to put in writing in the agreement that Sweden will not allow nuclear weapons on its soil.

Stockholm has repeatedly insisted there is no need to have a ban spelt out, citing “broad consensus on nuclear weapons” in Sweden as well as a parliamentary decision that bars nuclear weapons in the country in peacetime.

But Mr Kristersson on Monday said wartime was a different story.

“In a war situation it's a completely different matter, [it] would depend entirely on what would happen,” he told public broadcaster Swedish Radio.

“In the absolute worst-case scenario, the democratic countries in our part of the world must ultimately be able to defend themselves against countries that could threaten us with nuclear weapons.”

Nato through the years – in pictures

He insisted any such decision to place nuclear weapons in Sweden would be taken by Sweden, not the US.

“Sweden decides over Swedish territory,” he said.

But, he stressed, “the whole purpose of our Nato membership and our defence is to ensure that that situation does not arise”.

If Ukraine had been a Nato member, “it would not have been attacked by Russia”, he said.

The Social Democratic Party, which was in power when Sweden submitted its Nato membership application in May 2022, said at the time it would work to express “unilateral reservations against the deployment of nuclear weapons and permanent bases on Swedish territory”.

Nordic neighbours Denmark and Norway, which are already Nato members, have both refused to allow foreign countries to establish permanent military bases or nuclear weapons on their soil in peacetime.

Updated: May 14, 2024, 9:15 AM