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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Swedish Chemical Weapons

Swedish development of chemical [and in some sense nuclear weapons], began in 1928 with the so-called "security research" against chemical weapons. The French and German chemical weapons that were used during the Great War were seen as terrible in their efficiency to incapacitate ground troops. In order to protect themselves against the gas, chemical agents must be produced to learn how gas weapons work.

Sweden had not built up any knowledge surrounding chemical warfare, something the country tried to recoup during the interwar years. The main expertise was at Åkers Krutbruk, which had been founded in the year 1552, at the order of King Gustav Vasa. In that year, Sweden began manufacturing gunpowder, and Åkers Krutbruk was established, fulfilling the king's mandate and ensuring the defence of the nation. Gas issues began to be studied at Åkers Krutbruk in 1920 [today Åkers Krutbruk Protection AB, with 30 employees, offers a wide range of services and products primarily focusing on the areas ballistic protection, mine protection and active protection measures].

In 1926 a collaboration with the medical and chemical Department in Lund began under army fabric management, and two years later also with physico-chemical Department in Uppsala. Data on the Soviet combat gas development was obtained in 1925-1927 and it was clear that the gas protection research must be intensified in Sweden.

Assistant Professor Gustaf Ljunggren led the gas chemical research in Lund. He was a Lieutenant in the coastal artillery reserve, and early in the 1920s had encountered the constructions of gas protection of military fixed fortifications. Unlike his academic colleagues, he was not interested in the theoretical problems of gas, but with practical military applications. Army Administration Artillery Department realized that a talent of Ljunggren's caliber must be used, and it suggested that a Defence Branch Joint Research Institute should be established.

By 1930 the Defence Commission was studying the issue, and in 1936 the Armed Services Chemical Establishment (FKA) was set up, though not fully implemented until 1939. Mustard gas was studied carefully, including the practical exercises in the Karlskrona archipelago, and there were studies of production of mustard gas in Sweden. Attempts were made to purchase an industrial plant in Germany, but these efforts came to nothing, and later Italy offered to deliver a complete plant. Despite intense efforts to start Swedish production of mustard gas, the Supremen Commander General Thörnell decided in 1940 that defence efforts should focus on more conventional weapons.

Sweden had, despite the signing of the Geneva Convention, maintained a preparedness to manufacture and use of chemical weapons in the event of war. The Convention had not been entirely clear, but left some room for maneuver in the research context, which had been exploited. In 1967 the FOA's leading experts on chemical warfare, Stig Jacksén and Ljunggrens's successor as head of the FOA 1, Lars-Erik Tammelin, in a classified letter titled "C-include and C-protection in Swedish security policy: alternative courses of action" brought to "the national defense, mainly war forces, armament and protective equipment should comply with international law and in so far as it is not designed with one at each time point evaluated morality". In practice, the authors argued, therefore, that if the major powers had biological and chemical weapons, Sweden could also do the same.

Within the framework of implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling, and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (CWC), Sweden has undertaken a review, under paragraph 2(e) of Article XI, of its existing national regulations in the field of trade in chemicals in order to ascertain their consistency with the object and purpose of the Convention. The export regulations on trade in chemicals applied by Sweden, as a member of the European Union, are consistent with the EC Regulation 3381/94 and the guidelines in Annex III to Council Decision 94/942/CFSP. An export authorisation is required for all exports to destinations outside the European Community. A statement of end-use may be required.

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Page last modified: 21-09-2012 16:29:18 ZULU