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Swedish Parliament votes on controversial defense deal with the United States

The Swedish parliament votes on Tuesday on a controversial defense deal with the United States, with opponents fearing it could pave the way for the deployment of nuclear weapons and permanent U.S. bases in Sweden.

The Defence Cooperation Agreement (DCA) is a major development in Sweden's defence policy, which in March abandoned two centuries of military non-alignment by joining NATO.

The agreement signed by Stockholm and Washington in December allows US forces to access 17 Swedish defence bases and to store military equipment, weapons and ammunition in the country.

For its opponents, the agreement should stipulate that the presence of nuclear weapons will be prohibited in Sweden. “We want the law to prohibit the entry of nuclear weapons on Swedish soil,” Green Party MP Emma Beginger said during the debate in Parliament on Tuesday.

“The government has unfortunately chosen to sign an agreement which does not close the door to nuclear weapons, and the Green party will vote no to this agreement,” she added.

The center-right government of Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, supported by the Sweden Democrats (SD, far right), ensures that the agreement respects Swedish sovereignty.

< p>“It is very clear that Sweden is a sovereign nation and no country will be able to force Sweden to have nuclear weapons on its soil”, assured Defense Minister Pal Jonson during the debate.< /p>

– “Naive” –

To be adopted, the agreement must be approved by at least three-quarters of voting parliamentarians and by more than half of these 349 elected officials. The vote is expected in the evening.

With 42 seats, the Greens and the Left Party, who are opposed to the agreement and had voted against NATO membership, cannot block the text alone.

In an op-ed in the daily Aftonbladet on Sunday, two Left Party MPs consider the agreement “not only naive but downright insane” and assure that it makes Sweden less safe because “the American defense and security policy is based on nuclear weapons”.

Swedish Parliament votes on controversial defense deal with the United States

Defense Ministers of the United States Lloyd Austin (left) and Sweden's Pal Jonson give a press conference on April 19, 2023 in Stockholm. © TT NEWS AGENCY – Fredrik SANDBERG

“The fact that the government has not demanded any safeguards against such a brutal weapon of mass destruction is terrifying,” they wrote.

The Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society, one of the leading critical voices, has pointed out that two successive Swedish governments had insisted, during the NATO accession process, that Sweden adopt the same position as its neighbors , Denmark and Norway, on nuclear weapons.

“But unlike the DCA agreements of Norway and Denmark, the Swedish agreement contains no reservations against the introduction or stationing of nuclear weapons in Sweden,” wrote Kerstin Bergea, president of the association, in an article .

Finland, which joined NATO in April 2023, “has a law that prohibits nuclear weapons on Finnish territory and the DCA agreement of the Finland mentions this law”, she adds.

Such a mention by Sweden “would strengthen the Nordic region and contribute to a common de-escalation in the face of Russian nuclear weapons” .

– Nuclear in times of war? –

The Swedish Prime Minister sparked a debate in May by paving the way for the positioning of nuclear weapons in wartime.

Swedish Parliament votes on controversial defense deal with the United States

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson gives a press conference on June 15, 2024 in Stockholm © AFP – Jonathan NACKSTRAND

“In wartime it's a completely different question, it would completely depend on what happens,” he told public radio SR.

“This is an incredible statement, completely contrary to what Swedes think and what Sweden has stood for for a long time,” wrote the two Left Party parliamentarians.

Ms. Bergea believes that it is not certain that Sweden will be able to refuse access or the activities of the United States on its territory, if these were to violate Swedish law or interests.

“An agreement based solely on trust is not sufficient for matters as important as these”, a- she declared.

For Minister Pal Jonson, “thanks to the DCA, Sweden can benefit from early, rapid and effective military support from the States “United in the event of a deterioration in the security situation,” he said in a statement in May.

All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116