Swedish Peaceniks Jailed

In September 2008 a new wave of Swedish disarmament began, stepping up peaceful resistance against Sweden's warfare politics.

In March three peace workers entered Saab Aerosystems in Linoping, Sweden, with the aim of disarming the fighter jet "Jas 39 Gripen" bound for export. They were arrested before they reached the planes, and were jailed for attempting sabotage.

"We in the anti-militarist network Ofog felt that we have a moral obligation to stop these weapons before they are used to kill people. Five of us decided to hammer on weapons until they are rendered harmless," said Pelle Strindlund, one of the activists. He was sentenced to five months in prison and a fine of 13,000 Euros.

This was not their first action. Last October the three entered weapons factories in two different Swedish cities. They found and disarmed weapons used in the American-led war on Iraq and warfare material destined for India. For these actions, they had also been sent to jail.

Despite such peace actions, Swedish weapons exports have dramatically increased. Since 2001 it has tripled and today per capita Sweden is the second biggest weapons exporter in the world. The weapons go to dictatorships such as Saudi Arabia and human rights abusers such as Bahrain.

"To work for a peaceful world is satisfying, even behind bars," says Strindlund.

Roche receives award

The Honourable Douglas Roche, Q.C, a former Senator and Member of Parliament who represented Edmonton Alberta, received the Distinguished Service Award on June 1. This peer-nominated award is presented annually to former parliamentarians. Many of Mr. Roche's writings are available on his web page: and many have been published in Peace Magazine.

Russian nuclear forces

In 2009 Russia is reducing its deployment of nuclear armed missiles to meet the Moscow Treaty's 2,200-warhead limit by 2012. However, it is also developing new nuclear weapons, and its relations with NATO deteriorated during 2008, especially after the Russian invasion of Georgia in August.

Tensions also intensified when Poland declared itself willing to accept American anti-ballistic missiles. In response, the Russian Deputy Chief of Staff warned that "we can use nuclear weapons against the countries possessing nuclear weapons, against allies of such countries, if they somehow support them, and against those countries, which deploy other countries' nuclear weapons on their territories."

Early this year, Russia had about 4,830 operational nuclear warheads, plus 8,150 in reserve or awaiting dismantlement.

The head of Russia's ICBM force, Col. Gen. Nikolai Solovtsov, said, "At least 96 percent of all missile systems are ready for deployment within several dozen seconds." He announced plans to launch 13 missiles in 2009 and a new ICBM is apparently under development.

The number of submarine-and bomber-launched ballistic missiles is known, but the Russian government provides little information about its arsenal of non-strategic warheads. Presumably about half of them have been dismantled since 1992. Probably no ground-forces tactical warheads still exist. Whether or not a new treaty is adopted to follow after START, it is expected that Russia's strategic weapons will decrease over the next decade or so.

Source: Robert Norris, Hans M. Kristensen, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, May-June 2009, pp. 55-63.

Russians, US Negotiating

Nuclear weapons negotiations began on April 24 in Rome and continued May 18-20. The Russian negotiating team is led by Foreign Ministry Security and Disarmament Chief Anatoly Antonov, and the American team is led by US Assistant Secretary of State for Verification and Compliance Rose Gottemoeller. They are developing a new agreement to reduce both nations' nuclear arsenals.

Obama and Medvedev will meet again this summer, and have stated their intention to complete a draft agreement this year. However, the time is short, for the new treaty is meant to replace START, which expires in December.

Obama and Medvedev want the new treaty to reduce the deployed nuclear warheads on each side below the 1,700 - 2,200 limits of the 2002 Moscow Treaty. However, the US is reviewing its strategic posture and is unlikely to make dramatic reductions until that is completed in 2010. Clearly the Pentagon officials are likely to recommend against reducing the US nuclear stockpile, whereas Obama has stated his intention of bringing a CTB into force and completing global nuclear disarmament.

Source: Global Security Newswire, Arms Control Association.

Peace Magazine Jul-Sep 2009

Peace Magazine Jul-Sep 2009, page 31. Some rights reserved.

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