Nuclear Security, Safety and Non-Proliferation: Sweden's International Cooperation in 2019

Since the early 1990s, Sweden has been engaged in international efforts to ensure that radioactive and nuclear materials, as well as facilities and installations, are kept safe and secure.

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and 1992, it is likely that Sweden was the first country to initiate cross-border cooperation with the new states. In 1992, Swedish authorities started working with Kazakhstan and Ukraine on various non-proliferation and nuclear materials control issues. While a major international debate went on for many years over the fate of the former Soviet nuclear weapons that were stationed in Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine, Sweden worked with the newly established Ukrainian and Kazakh regulators and facilities in terms of the management and measurement of nuclear materials. The ultimate aim was to ensure that international requirements in these contexts could be met. Slowly and gradually, this was a practical and contributing factor to Ukraine and Kazakhstan being able to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the International Atomic Energy Agency, the IAEA.

To some extent, these early efforts represent a trademark as to how Sweden has operated since this time. Sweden and its representatives have worked, and continue to pursue efforts, in the particular countries designated by the Swedish Government. The main focus of this work is on practical and technical issues that warrant initiatives for modernization, overhauls and upgrades. From time to time, the efforts accomplished can have broader positive impacts that bring about additional dialogue and new areas of cooperation between the parties involved. In this sense, the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority views its efforts as a true example of "collective security". This implies a situation where no one is threatened and all parties benefit. Improved security and safety at a facility together with strengthened regulatory functions in a third country contribute not only to safety and security locally, but also to the safety and security of people and institutions in Sweden and societies elsewhere.

Sweden and its Minister for Foreign Affairs at the turn of this century, the late Ms Anna Lindh, initiated much of the cooperation and many of the frameworks for relations with the Russian Federation. The MNEPR Agreement (Multilateral Nuclear and Environmental Programmes in Russia) was signed in 2003, and still serves as the legal foundation for not only Sweden’s, but also other states' cooperation, when it comes to dealing with legacy waste from the Cold War era. At around the same time, yet another international framework was established. In 2002, at the G7 Summit in Kananaskis, Canada created the Global Partnership, under which the G7 states also invited other states to work on nuclear security, safety and non-proliferation issues, in particular in the Russian Federation. Over the years, the ambitions have shifted to other beneficiaries. Today, the Global Partnership, with some 30 member states, is the largest of the institutions created under the G7.

An additional key framework internationally on the part of SSM, and Sweden, comprises the reports by the UN Secretary General to the UN General Assembly, as well as the UN General Assembly Resolutions, which since 2002 have been unanimously adopted by the UN General Assembly in support of furthering educational efforts in the fields of non-proliferation and education. These UN documents provide guidance for SSM’s educational efforts.

In 2004, the UN Security Council established the UNSC Resolution 1540. This resolution is binding for all UN Member States and requires states to have proper national control systems for materials and technologies potentially useable for the production of weapons of mass destruction. The "1540 mechanism" also establishes a cooperation and exchange function by which all states may request technical and logistical assistance from each other in order to fulfil the requirements established by the Resolution.

Further frameworks at EU level, such as the EU Strategy Against Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, from 2003, and its later updates, also play an important role in keeping the EU committed to shared objectives. The Nuclear Security Summit process and its four Summits between 2010 and 2016 produced four communiqués and a work plan. These documents constitute tremendously important goals and procedures for achieving higher degrees of nuclear security. At the level of the IAEA, the recurring ICONS conferences on nuclear security are taking over the policy-guidance and high-political functions that the Nuclear Security Summit process established.

In practical terms, the various institutions and frameworks interact. In one setting, such as the Global Partnership, there are usually presentations and discussions on the Nuclear Security Summit, UNSCR 1540, etc., and discussions take place on where the frameworks intersect and progress needs to be made in the field. In the context of the Nuclear Security Summit, it was established how the various frameworks, such as the Global Partnership, UNSCR 1540, the IAEA’s Nuclear Security Fund and others, are encouraged to operate.

From a Swedish point of view, the international frameworks mentioned range from basic starting points to sets of formal obligations. The following pages provide a summary of SSM’s accomplishments during 2019.