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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 55, March 2001

Doubts Persist over Kaliningrad Nuclear Weapons

As reported in recent issues, a number of states have been expressing concern and seeking clarification over US media allegations, flatly denied by Moscow, that Russian tactical nuclear weapons have been moved into the Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad. Sweden, in its capacity as holder of the European Union (EU) Presidency, has been at the forefront of efforts to verify that no such transfer has occurred. Speaking on March 6, senior Swedish government official Stefan Noreen told reporters: "I find it hard to believe that you can rule out the possibility that nuclear weapons may exist, from time to time, in Kaliningrad... If it were the case that Russia has deployed tactical nuclear weapons in Kaliningrad and simultaneously denied it, it would be extremely serious, no doubt about that... But it is not certain that this is the case." The same day, following a meeting in Washington with US Secretary of State Colin Powell, Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh was quizzed by reporters on the controversy:

"Question: 'According to Swedish newspaper reports today, the United States government believes that the Swedish EU Presidency has not reacted strongly enough to information about Russian tactical nuclear warheads in Kaliningrad. Was this something you discussed today...?'

Lindh: 'No, we have not discussed that issue today. And what I have said is that we have raised the issue, and I raised the issue with my Russian colleague, Igor Ivanov, a week ago, two weeks ago. He denied it. Then we cannot really do anything else concerning Kaliningrad [other] than to claim that it's important that we continue to discuss the [issue of] tactical nuclear warheads in general, because we do have a lot in the region... [I]t's important to include tactical...nuclear arms...in future international negotiations and in START III...'"

Reports: Transcript - Powell, Swedish Foreign Minister on US-EU meeting, US State Department (Washington File), March 6; Sweden can't rule out nuclear arms in Kaliningrad, Reuters, March 6.

© 2001 The Acronym Institute.