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Explaining Nuclear Forbearance: A Case Study on Sweden

Why did Sweden choose, in the late 1960s, to abandon its long-standing nuclear weapons plans? Today, the end of the Cold War and the declassification of large parts of the relevant documentary record, especially concerning the technical preparations for nuclear weapons production, have created the prerequisites for a more penetrating analysis of this important historical issue. The purpose of this presentation is to summarize the research on Sweden’s plans to acquire nuclear weapons based on primary sources. This overarching analysis is then tested against International Relations theories which have sought to explain factors of proliferation and non-proliferation.

Date & Time

Nov. 1, 2012
3:30pm – 5:00pm

Location

4th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center
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Explaining Nuclear Forbearance: A Case Study on Sweden

Why did Sweden choose, in the late 1960s, to abandon its long-standing nuclear weapons plans? A number of historical investigations have analyzed some aspects of this issue, particularly as it related to the public political debate in Sweden and the formulation of the Swedish defense doctrine in the postwar years. Some studies have attempted to explicate, from a more overarching perspective, why Sweden opted not to develop nuclear weapons capability, but these efforts have generally been hampered by heavy dependence on secondary source materials consisting of published English-language works. Taken together, these studies provide a far-from-complete picture of Sweden’s historical nuclear weapons plans. The main reason for this lack of a comprehensive picture has been the paucity of primary sources. Today, however, the end of the Cold War and the declassification of large parts of the relevant documentary record, especially concerning the technical preparations for nuclear weapons production, have created the prerequisites for a more penetrating analysis of this important historical issue. The purpose of this presentation is to summarize the research on Sweden’s plans to acquire nuclear weapons based on primary sources. This overarching analysis is then tested against International Relations theories which have sought to explain factors of proliferation and non-proliferation.

Thomas Jonter is a professor of International Relations in the Departmenbt of Economic History at Stockholm University. His research focuses on nuclear non-proliferation and energy security. He is also chair of the ESARDA (European Safeguards and Research Development Association) working group for Training and Knowledge Management. Currently, he is heading a research project of Swedish Disarmament policy during the Cold War.

Speaker

Thomas Jonter

Thomas Jonter

Director of the Stockholm University Graduate School of International Studies
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Hosted By

Nuclear Proliferation International History Project

The Nuclear Proliferation International History Project is a global network of individuals and institutions engaged in the study of international nuclear history through archival documents, oral history interviews, and other empirical sources. At the Wilson Center, it is part of the Wilson Center's History and Public Policy Program.  Read more

History and Public Policy Program

The History and Public Policy Program uses history to improve understanding of important global dynamics, trends in international relations, and American foreign policy.  Read more

Cold War International History Project

The Cold War International History Project supports the full and prompt release of historical materials by governments on all sides of the Cold War. Through an award winning Digital Archive, the Project allows scholars, journalists, students, and the interested public to reassess the Cold War and its many contemporary legacies. It is part of the Wilson Center's History and Public Policy Program.  Read more

Global Europe Program

The Global Europe Program addresses vital issues affecting Europe’s relations with the rest of the world through scholars-in-residence, seminars, international conferences and publications. These programmatic activities cover wide-ranging topics include: European energy security, the role of the European Union and NATO, democratic transitions, and counter-terrorism, among others. The program also investigates comparatively European approaches to policy issues of importance to the United States, including migration, global governance, and relations with Russia, China and the Middle East.  Read more

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