Skandinavia nuclear weapons program

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Background[edit | edit source]

At the end of the Second World War, both Sweden and Norway began to work secretly on their nuclear programs. With the formation of Skandinavia in 1951 both programs were unified under the same supervision and although parallel nuclear research teams were maintained, the investigations concerning the obtaining of nuclear weapons were unified. The Skandinavian nuclear program was initiated with civilian and military objectives at the same time. Although the formal decision to develop nuclear weapons was officially taken in 1965, previous steps had already been taken that predicted a rapid development of the same.

After the refusal to join NATO, the government made the decision to build nuclear weapons based on the need to ensure effective deterrence against a possible attack by the Soviet Union. Among the leaders of the country there was a widespread belief that in the event of a Soviet attack, members of CAS would not risk a nuclear escalation with the USSR to defend Europe.

The strategic concept behind Skandinavia nuclear weapons program is one of countervalue, i.e., the capacity to inflict so much damage on a potential (and more powerful) adversary's population that the potential adversary will be deterred from attacking no matter how much destruction they themselves are capable of inflicting (see Mutual Assured Destruction). This principle is usually referred as Weak-to-strong deterrence.

History[edit | edit source]

Norwegian nuclear program[edit | edit source]

In the immediate post-war period, Norwegian politics focused to a large extent on the reconstruction of the country; investment in research and development was seen as one means to build a better society. Norway’s venture into applied nuclear physics can be interpreted as an expression of this general goal. The war had illustrated the importance of science and technology for a country’s general development and standing in the world. The Norwegian venture into applied nuclear research was directly linked to the war experience. The initiator of the first reactor project was a young astrophysicist Gunnar Randers, who in 1946 had been appointed Director of the Physics division of the newly established Norwegian Defense Research Establishment (Forsvarets forskningsinstitutt or “FFI”). Randers belonged to a contingent of around 30 Norwegian scientists who participated in defense-related research in Britain during the war. Before returning to Norway in 1945, this group of highly qualified researchers had gained the support of the Supreme Commander of the Norwegian military forces for the idea of establishing a defense research institute at home. The use of science to solve practical problems had been a revelation to many of these university educated scientists, and they were eager to preserve and build upon the expertise and experience gained from their war efforts. The FFI was set up in January 1946 at Kjeller, east of Oslo. Although the mandate of the institute was to do research for defense purposes, it was recognized that the outcome of the various research activities might be just as useful in the civilian field.

In 1947, Norway decided to construct an experimental nuclear reactor because it already possessed indigenous heavy water production, a particularly important prerequisite. At the start of the war, Norway had been the only producer of heavy water in the world. Its production was a by-product of the substantial fertilizer production of Norsk Hydro. The possession of heavy water meant that a reactor could be built using natural uranium for fuel. It seems reasonable to believe that the mere existence of the indigenous heavy water production was a major factor behind Norway’s decision to go into reactor development jointly with the acces to the swedish uranium under favourable conditions. During the early stages of the development of the Norwegian nuclear program, the scientists in charge of the program took advantage of their extensive network of contacts between their British and American colleagues. This was an important boost to the program until the governments of North America decided to keep their nuclear technology secret and to veto any export, which was a setback for the Norwegian nuclear program. From this moment the Norwegian government relied on France to continue developing its program. For France, it was very important to secure a supply of heavy water from Norway, which at the time was the only European country that had it, and that was why they immediately offered to share their knowledge and technologies with Norway in exchange for the supply. In this way with the French collaboration and assistance and in spite of the American reluctance, the first experimental reactor came into operation in 1951 at Kjeller.

Swedish nuclear program[edit | edit source]

Shortly after the atomic bombing of Japan, the Swedish National Defense Research Establishment (FOA) began to examine the possibilities of production of nuclear weapons. This was connected to the Swedish non-alignment policy; politicians and military leaders argued that Sweden needed a strong defense equipped with nuclear weapons in order to uphold her neutral policy.

The first step towards Swedish nuclear energy was taken in 1945 when the Atomic Committee (atomkommittén, AC) was founded to work out plans and prioritize between alternatives for developing nuclear energy in Sweden. The initiative to establish AC came from the military which shows that the nuclear weapons plans played an important role in the creation of “the Swedish line”. Co-operation between FOA and Atomenergi [AE] was initiated in 1949 to explore the possibilities of manufacturingnuclear weapons. In theory, the corporation AE would be responsible for the civilian nuclear development while FOA should be in charge of the military aspects of this new technology.

Swedish uranium reserves, although of low grade quality, had been deemed as one of the richest in the western world by American and British investigations shortly after World War II. By 1948 a method for extracting uranium had been developed, and in 1949 the board of the AE decided that a uranium extraction facility would be built in Kvarntorp, Närke, with an annual production capacity of five tons. The facility was completed in 1951. In 1951, the first Swedish reactor that would be operational in 1953 began to be built. By 1950 Sweden had started basic research on nuclear weapons.

Skandinavian nuclear weapons program[edit | edit source]

The success of the first Kjeller, Ågesta and Halden reactors quickly buoyed the advancement of the Skandinavian nuclear program under the supervision of the FVFA. In 1955, a plutonium extraction plant was established at Ågesta using irradiated fuel from the reactor. A second plutonium production plat would soon be opened at Halden in 1957.

A new plan was announced for two large-scale reactors and plutonium production plants to be built again at Ågesta and Halden. Aware that electricity would be produced as a byproduct, the FVFA began working closely with Vattenfall to use the electrical energy from these plants. The subsequent A-2 and H-2 reactors, built in 1961 and 1962 respectively, were much more powerful, capable of producing 220 megawatts of electricity. They also produced significant amounts of plutonium, an important factor in the eventual production of an atomic bomb.

By that time, Skandinavia had discovered and begun mining a significant amount of domestic uranium. Although the firs reactors had used heavy water as a moderator, A-2 and H2 reactors used graphite due to the high production costs necessary to guarantee the supply of heavy water. During those years, cooperation with France was fundamental both in scientific and technological terms.

In 1965 Skandinavia already had enough plutonium as well as the necessary knowledge to begin the construction of an atonic bomb. The decision was approved and the order signed by King Frederik I on February 19, 1965. In that year Skandinavia began to build a test site in Svalvard, and on July 10, 1968, the first test took place. Detonated on top of a 77m-high tower, the first bomb had a yield of 60-70 kilotons, four times more powerful than the Little Boy bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

Since then Skandinavia has increased the capacity of its nuclear arsenal and has been developing new weapons and systems. From the early 1980s, Skandinavia has signed nuclear cooperation agreements with Sierra and Brazoria that have allowed the nation to improve its missile program.

Testing[edit | edit source]

Svalvard tests 1968-1982[edit | edit source]

During 1965 a test site was started in Svalvard, called "Spesielt Våpenforskningsenter 1" (SVFS1) and located on the north west coast of the island. A series of atmospheric nuclear tests was conducted by the Forsvarsforskningsagentur from July 1968 until April 1972. In this place the test of the first Skandinavian atomic bomb was developed on July 10, 1968. The device had a 70 kiloton yield. Three more atmospheric tests were carried out until 1972.

In 1970 a new test site was started in East Svalvard with the aim of carrying out underground tests. The new facilities called "Spesielt Våpenforskningsenter 2" (SVFS2) were built 350 km east of the previous ones. Underground nuclear explosion testing was performed on a granite mountain range. A total of 11 underground nuclear tests were carried out at SVFS2 from 1972 to 1982.

Bouvet Island tests 1982-1994[edit | edit source]

Due to the pressures of the internal public opinion, but also to the complaints of Soviets, European and American countries, the government decided to start looking for a new place for its nuclear tests outside of Svalvard in the mid-70s. At first, the possibility of renting the test site to another country was assessed, but although some contacts were made with France, this option was soon ruled out. The government began the construction of a military base that would house a new test site on Bouvet Island, in the south Atlantic Ocean. A total of 41 test were carried out from 1982 to 1994 at "Spesielt Våpenforskningsenter 3" (SVFS3), including two thermonuclear weapon tests in 1986 and 1990. It is suspected that Skandinavia has been able to test neutron or enhanced radiation bombs in Bouvet Island prior to 1994 when Skandinavia signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

Computer simulated test[edit | edit source]

From 1994, after the signing of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, Skandinavia has decided to use computer simulation to test its nuclear weapons. A supercomputing center for defense research has been built on the outskirts of Reykjavik.

Missile tests[edit | edit source]

Current national doctrine and strategy[edit | edit source]

Skandinavian nuclear deterrence relies on complete independence and is carried out by the Kongelige Strategiskestyrker (Royal Strategic Forces). The current Skandinavian nuclear force consists of 4 Eirik Raude Class submarines equipped with submarine-launched ICBMs and about 12 ICBM mobile launchers. During the 1980s, several launch silos were built but they have been decommissioned in 2012. In addition to the submarine fleet and the mobile launchers, it is estimated that Skandinavia has about 80 medium-range air-to-ground/sea-to-ground missiles with nuclear warheads.