Swedish lawmakers adopt controversial US defense deal amid nuclear fears

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Swedish lawmakers on Tuesday adopted a controversial defense deal with the United States, which critics fear could lead to the deployment of nuclear weapons and permanent US bases in the country.

The Defense Cooperation Agreement (DCA) is a major step for a nation that in March ended two centuries of military non-alliance to join NATO.

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Signed by Stockholm and Washington in December, the deal gives the US access to 17 military bases and training areas in Sweden, and allows the storage of weapons, military equipment and ammunition.

The agreement was approved by a broad majority in parliament following an almost five-hour debate, with 266 MPs voting in favor and 37 against, while 46 were absent.

The main opponents, the Left and Green parties, had argued that the agreement ought to state outright that the Scandinavian country would not allow nuclear weapons on its territory.

“We want to see legislation that bans nuclear weapons from being brought onto Swedish soil,” Green Party MP Emma Berginger told parliament during Tuesday’s debate.

“Unfortunately, the government has chosen to sign an agreement that doesn’t close the door to nuclear weapons, and therefore the Green Party is going to vote no to this agreement,” she told said during the debate.

Greens leader Daniel Hellden had argued Monday that the agreement made Sweden “a target for nuclear weapons” since “we’re going to have 17 bases where the Americans can store [military] materiel.”

Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson’s center-right minority government, propped up by the far-right Sweden Democrats, has said the deal respects Swedish sovereignty.

“It is very clear that Sweden is a sovereign nation, and there is no other country that can force Sweden to have nuclear weapons on Swedish soil,” Defense Minister Pal Jonson insisted.

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