The Swedish Nuclear Weapons

Saab-rb-315-image1Before It’s News – by The Awake Zone

Sweden may have been neutral, but in great secrecy started as the fourth nation after Germany USA and Russia to develop Nuclear Weapons. When the Swedish nuclear weapons program began: It was done in order to protect themselves against Atomic weapons, but first one must know how they work and how they can be manufactured. It seemed that Sweden, as a major power in the Nordic countries, on whose shoulders rested the defense against the Soviet Union, would need to have nuclear weapons.  

And shortly after the atomic bombing of Japan, the Swedish National Defense Research Establishment (FOA) began to examine the possibilities of production of nuclear weapons. This was connected to the Swedish non-alignment policy; politicians and military leaders argued that Sweden needed a strong defense equipped with nuclear weapons in order to uphold her neutral policy. And we started the quest to manufacturing them.

The first step towards Swedish nuclear energy was taken in 1945 when the Atomic Committee (atomkommittén, AC) was founded to work out plans and prioritize between alternatives for developing nuclear energy in Sweden. The initiative to establish AC came from the military which shows that the nuclear weapons plans played an important role in the creation of “the Swedish line”. Co-operation between FOA and Atomenergi [AE] was initiated in 1949 to explore the possibilities of manufacturing nuclear weapons. In theory, the corporation AE would be responsible for the civilian nuclear development while FOA should be in charge of the military aspects of this new technology.

Atomenergi AE today by Pelle Sten

Atomenergi AE today by Pelle Sten

Swedish uranium reserves, all though of low-grade quality, had been deemed as one of the richest in the western world by American and British investigations shortly after World War II. By 1948 a method for extracting uranium had been developed, and in 1950 the board of the AE decided that a uranium extraction facility would be built in Kvarntorp, Närke, with an annual production capacity of five tons. The facility was completed in 1953. In 1954, Sweden’s first reactor R 1 went into operation.

By the late 1940s Sweden had started research on nuclear weapons, and by 1953 all was almost set for the first nuclear test. By 1960 the question had already arisen within Sweden of whether it should develop or otherwise acquire an atomic capability. Without some outside assistance, however, particularly in the form of weapons designs and permission to purchase Western equipment, this process would be costly and lengthy and could result, during an interim period, in a diversion of resources to this purpose which might otherwise be used to sustain Sweden’s present power position, for example, by modernization of its existing forces.

If Sweden decided to acquire nuclear weapons, Denmark and Norway might be encouraged to accept nuclear warheads within the NATO framework. Sweden’s membership in NATO was not necessary to Western defense. It would contribute to the over-all defensive strength of the Western powers for Sweden to modernize its defense posture and to establish in Sweden early warning, air control and advanced weapons systems (without nuclear warheads) which are compatible with and complementary to those planned for installation in the territory of neighboring US allies.


The three Scandinavian nations, particularly Sweden, had the most highly developed civil defense programs in the Free World. In each of these nations the incorporation of shelters in new building construction and registration for civil defense duties are required by law. Civil defense in Sweden and Norway is characterized by large deep rock shelters for elements of the population and industry, and in Denmark by an extensive fallout shelter program.

While the previous discussion on Swedish nuclear weapons had a hypothetical element, over time it became increasingly concrete, and part of the political establishment became ever more negative to the military nuclear weapons program. Instead, priority was given to civil energy program, and the Social Democrats began to exhibit a clear disagreement on the issue of Swedish military nuclear weapons. The government considered nuclear energy preparations in general for the first time in November 1955, and on 23 November 1955 it addressed specifically the question of Swedish nuclear weapons. Defense minister Torsten Nilsson stressed the importance for the armed forces to have modern weapons. The Prime Minister declined to take a position, while Foreign Minister Östen Undén, Finance Minister Gunnar Sträng and, not least, Ulla Lindstrom, with the entire Social Democratic Women’s League, were strongly opposed.

Consent was given in the hand for further research work on ABC weapons and protection against these, and also design work on the Swedish atomic bomb. Knowledge of the construction of nuclear weapons had now been improved. The military position on nuclear weapons acquisition became final in the fall of 1957 when a new policy, Supreme Commander-57 [OB-57] was published. The Swedish armed forces could be equipped with nuclear weapons within a decade. Leading soldiers declared simply that Swedish defense without its own nuclear weapons was not credible.


It was the Swedish Navy who first took advantage of the experience in Sweden, the German V 1 and V 2 robots ended up here during World War II. Maritime Administration ordered from Saab construction of a so-called “air torpedo” intended for development. The first order is in force five missile airframe is dated October 9, 1945 and a year later began test-firing in Karlsborg. This robot was designated LT300.

The years 1959-1964 highlighted the Government’s agreement on the military program. By referring the question of Swedish nuclear weapons to a study group, decisions were delayed until the issue had lost its topicality. FOA had in 1961 produced a concrete design dossier for Swedish nuclear weapons, and which required plutonium acquisition. An earlier proposal to use the R4 nuclear reactor for the extraction of plutonium from Swedish uranium appeared unlikely to materialize. The civil users preferred to use a completely different type of reactor, which meant that fissile materials must be imported from the United States, with all that this meant in the way of inspection and control from the United States. In the end, the new Commander-in-Chief, Torsten Rapp, cancelled investment in a Swedish military reactor, and Swedish production of weapons-grade uranium was thus no longer possible.

Saab Jet rockets

The nuclear weapons proposal was approved by the Supreme Commander, with the title “PM rörandekärnladdningsfrågan i ÖB-65” (Memorandum concerning the nuclear device issue in ÖB-65). The memorandum contained a cost calculation for a nuclear weapons program comprising 100 nuclear explosive devices (including weapon carriers, testing and development costs). The total cost was estimated at 1,950 million SEK. The basic information for a chiefs of staff meeting on 15-16 March 1965 stated that the “freedom of action” approach should apply for the time being, to support a later decision to purchase nuclear weapons. The time between decision and production was estimated at 5.5 years.

Saab 35 Draken Fighter

The main weapon carrier systems would be the A 32 Lansen and the planned A 37 Viggen attack aircraft. The Saab Draken (Dragon) was designed to intercept high altitude and high-speed bombers. The Draken was active in the Swedish Airforce between 1960 and 1998. It was a true cold war product, unique with its double delta wing concept, given the abilty to carry nuclear weapons, although nuclear weapons were never produced. Submarines could also be equipped with nuclear weapons, in the form of torpedoes. Another possibility mentioned was a ground-based missile system. SAAB was working on such a system.

Saab JA37 Viggen Fighter

Viggen Best jetfighter in the world at its time

During the 1960s, when the Viggen project tended to swallow up more resources than intended, the Air Force examined the Swedish nuclear bomb. In the choice between an atomic weapon and the SAAB AJ 37 Viggen and the Swedish atomic bomb – an imaginary weapon – the Air Force chose the Viggen. The Swedish Navy invested heavily in underground protection for warships. The Air Force did the same for several squadron of aircraft. This showed that the atomic bomb threat was taken seriously. The Commander-in-Chief Torsten Rapp gave to the final death knell for the Swedish nuclear weapon program. In the choice between an atomic bomb and the SAAB AJ 37 Viggen, he chose the latter.

“This is not news for some people as years ago it has been revealed that Sweden had its own nuclear arms program that has up to 100 nuclear warheads as a goal. But for many this was a real shock when they found out that the peace-loving, anti-Vietnam-war-Swedes turned out to be secretly manufacturing  plutonium for bombs in several “experimental” reactors.

And this activity continued decades after Sweden had signed the international Non-Proliferation Treaty that forbid any kind of nuclear arms manufacturing. It was not until mid 1990s when Swedish plutonium producing capable reactors were taken totally out of use. They had been kept in reserve – capable of producing bomb grade plutonium all the time.”

“There is something remarkable in this Swedish nuclear arms process: And the US analytics were really nervous about Sweden developing their own bomb – if Sweden manages to do that even though it claims officially to be against nuclear arms, what would all the other countries that have nuclear power plants and research reactors do after Sweden has detonated its first nuclear bomb?

Swedish prime minister Tage Erlander who gave birth to Sweden’s nuclear program, also buried it. According to Jonter, he did this partly because of implicit security reassurances from the United States, partly because of divisions in his own inner circle about going nuclear, and partly because, having had a decade or more to think about it, so Sweden concluded that it could easily acquire nuclear weapons if it so desired, Sweden decided it would be more secure if it formally forswore the nuclear option.


Olkiluoto -1 and -2 were built by a Swedish nuclear arms company  AB ASEA-ATOM

It turned out that the plans outlined in the studies of the nuclear device group were difficult to carry out in practice. There would be both technical and financial difficulties in accommodating the weapons program in the framework of civilian nuclear energy development. The government maintained in the budget proposals for 1966 that it was not possible to meet FOA’s request. In practice, this decision means that the Swedish plans to acquire nuclear weapons had been abandoned.

The 1968 defense bill maintained that it was not in Sweden’s interest to acquire nuclear weapons. Parliament passed the bill and with this the “freedom of action” option disappeared from the security policy agenda. The nuclear weapons plans were abolished in 1968, when Sweden signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. And it disappeared on 09 January 1970 when Sweden ratified the NPT.

The government controlled AB Atomenergi (AE), which dominated “the Swedish line” was dissolved in 1968 and its resources were transferred to the new private company ASEA-ATOM owned by the Swedish multi-national corporation ASEA.In the 1970 white book Svensk atomenergipolitik (Swedish atomic energy policy), the Minister of Industry Krister Wickman summarized the nation’s experience of developing nuclear energy. Twenty-three years had passed since the government-owned company AB Atomenergi was created, responsible for the Swedish research and development of nuclear power based on heavy water technology where domestic uranium would be used. This huge and capital-intensive project was called “the Swedish line” for its ambition to reach independence in the nuclear energy field. It was abolished and replaced by the light water reactor technology that had started to dominate the nuclear market in Sweden and globally since the beginning of 1960s.

“On 27 March 2012 Carl Bildt, Minister for Foreign Affairs, stated at the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit “I would like to announce the recent removal of separated plutonium from Sweden. This plutonium was the product of research programs carried out in previous decades, also related to weapons. Over the course of the last two years, we have worked jointly with the United States to safely and securely stabilize, package and transport the separated plutonium we still had to the United States.

“Our objective is a world without nuclear weapons. Securing vulnerable nuclear material is one step towards that goal. We should also make every effort to see to it that the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty enters into force and that negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty can commence. Bildt said.

Svampmoln_468 Jokkmokk

The Swedish mushroom cloud fills the sky in Jokkmokk. 28 of August 1957. This was is the culmination of the secret Swedish nuclear bomb project, which in 1985 was unveiled in the news magazine New Technology. For 25 years the Swedish military officers, politicians and high-ranking officials ran the project that consumed billions of dollars.

Heres another secret: In the Stockholm suburb of Agesta, Huddinge a small rock hillock rises amid pine forests and horse farms. It might be just another playground for Scandinavian climbers but for one startling feature: Protruding from the top of the mound, like a missile peaking from a silo, is the conical tip of a nuclear reactor cooling tower.


For almost thirty years ago, this 65-megawatt reactor buried 50 yards deep and capable of sizable plutonium production was a key component of a vigorous Swedish program to develop the nuclear bombs as option, a project that at its Cold War height secretly employed 350 scientists and technicians at the Defense Ministry.

Not long ago international nuclear inspectors are discovering that some key elements of that Swedish bomb project have been quietly preserved for the more than 25 years since Sweden pledged to be a none nuclear state. And not only that: Because Sweden continues to maintain at its National Defense Research Establishment a small team of theoretical physicists who research nuclear weapons technology, according to the program’s director, Tor Larsson. Besides current research on such topics as the theoretical performance of a nuclear bomb and the effects of nuclear explosions on a convention all military battlefield, these Swedish defense scientists possess an archive of preliminary design and technical data on nuclear weapons, the legacy of Sweden’s Cold War-era bomb project.

My personal reflection on this is: No one seems to know what ever happened to the first Swedish Nuclear bombs that were actually made. Because there were surely some made! Are they still there?

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