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Nuclear deterrence policy - Perspectives from the UK and Sweden

2023-06-16 (kl. 09:00 - 10:30)
Linnégatan 14, 114 47 Stockholm

Folk och Försvar is delighted to invite you to attend a seminar with representatives from the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and Ministry of Defence. This seminar will provide perspectives from the UK and Sweden on nuclear deterrence policy.

Aside from being a NATO member, the UK is also a permanent member of the UN Security Council (P5) and thus one of the five officially recognised nuclear weapons states under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). However, in support of the NPT, the UK has taken a number of disarmament steps and now only maintains its submarine-launched Trident system. In this seminar, we will learn more about how the UK shapes its nuclear deterrence policy and how it contributes to NATO’s deterrence and defence. Particularly, how does the UK strike a balance between disarmament and deterrence?

In a joint statement together with the other P5 members in January 2022, the parties “[…] affirm that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.” Only a month later, everything changed. Russia’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine dramatically challenged the European security order and many countries have shifted their defence and security policies. The security situation in Europe has affected priorities in the Nordic region – where Finland has recently joined NATO, and Sweden’s application is still pending ratification – and a long period of military non-alliance has concluded.

In the ongoing war in Ukraine, Russia has repeatedly reminded the world of the use of nuclear weapons as the ultimate military tool, but it would also cause immense human suffering and unparalleled destruction. Why not get rid of all nuclear weapons then? As we all know, it is because they contribute to deterrence – a core component of NATO’s mutual security guarantee and collective defence since 1949.  NATO’s new Strategic Concept was adopted in June 2022 at the Madrid Summit. While it maintains that “[t]he fundamental purpose of NATO’s nuclear capability is to preserve peace, prevent coercion and deter aggression”, and that NATO “seek[s] to create the security environment for a world without nuclear weapons”, it also mentions that [t]he potential use of Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear materials or weapons against NATO by hostile state and non-state actors remains a threat to our security”, and therefore, “[a]s long as nuclear weapons exist, NATO will remain a nuclear alliance.”

The strategic nuclear forces are the supreme guarantee of NATO’s collective security, but its deterrence and defence posture is based on a combination of nuclear, conventional and missile defence capabilities, as well as space and cyber capabilities. Sweden does not have nuclear weapons, but will become allied with countries that do. How will this affect the Swedish defence policy and planning? In what ways can Sweden contribute to NATO’s deterrence?

While the use of nuclear weapons poses the greatest threat to mankind, they still constitute the most powerful military tool that a country or an alliance can use against an adversary, whether deployed or implied. What will the future hold for nuclear weapons: armament or disarmament? What incentives are there for global disarmament? Are there ways to create deterrence without nuclear weapons? These and many more questions will be discussed during the seminar.


Moderator: David Bruhn, Programme Manager Defence Policy, Folk och Försvar

Coffee will be served from 08.30.

09:00 Introduction
David Bruhn, Programme Manager Defence Policy, Folk och Försvar

Threats to European security – a common view on defence and deterrence?
Graham Webber, Head of the Security Policy Department, UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office

The shaping of a nuclear deterrence policy
Garret Martin, Deputy Director, Defence Nuclear Organisation, UK Ministry of Defence

How will Sweden contribute to deterrence as a Nato-member?
Robert Dalsjö, Research Director, Department for Strategy and Policy, Swedish Defense Research Agency (FOI)
Karl Sörenson, Senior Analyst and Dep. Dir. for Strategy and Policy, Division of Defense Analysis, Swedish Defense Research Agency (FOI)
John Rydqvist, Deputy Director, Department for Security Policy and International Relations, Swedish Ministry of Defence

Amanda Wollstad, Editor-in-chief, Svensk Tidskrift
Anders Lindberg, Political editor-in-chief, Aftonbladet

10:30 Seminar ends

Register to attend below. Please note that the seminar will be held under the Chatham House Rule. The seminar will be livestreamed, but will not be recorded to watch later.

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