Each year, a variety of sensitive products are procured and cutting-edge expertise is acquired unlawfully in Sweden for use in other countries’ weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programmes. The remit of the Security Service includes countering this, and targeted information campaigns are an effective way of doing so.

The goal is to prevent Swedish companies and research institutes from knowingly or unknowingly contributing to other countries’ WMD programmes.

The majority of the products needed to produce WMDs are not unique to weapons manufacturing, but feature in several other industries as well. Products which can be used to manufacture either ordinary civilian products or WMDs are referred to as dual use products.

Why such crime takes place in Sweden

Sweden has an open research culture which contributes to its prominence in this area and which benefits this research. Sweden is also involved in an extensive international exchange via its research collaboration and its reception of many visiting scientists. While this is mostly advantageous for Sweden, cutting-edge technology and expertise could also be used for military purposes. It is therefore necessary to be wary of who gains access to this.

Attempts to procure products (mainly through trade) and acquire expertise from Sweden are made by countries wishing to develop and/or manufacture WMDs. Sweden is regarded as an attractive country in this regard, one of the reasons being its high technological expertise in the area of civilian and military industry. Countries attempt to procure products and acquire expertise from Sweden for both manufacturing and development purposes.

How procurement takes place

There are many ways in which products could be procured. This could happen, for example, as follows: Swedish Company A, which manufactures a particular product (vacuum pumps, for instance), is contacted by Company B from a country outside the EU.

Procurement via an intermediary.

Procurement via an intermediary.

Company B wishes to purchase a number of vacuum pumps from Company A. Company A therefore applies for an export licence, which is granted by the Inspectorate of Strategic Products. Company B, to whom the pumps are sold however, is only an intermediary that intends to ship the pumps onwards to the actual end user, Company C. This means that the pumps are unlawfully exported to a completely different end user than Swedish Company A was informed about. The end user is instead one of many companies involved in WMD programmes, and the vacuum pumps from Sweden are subsequently used in an uranium enrichment process with the ultimate aim of manufacturing nuclear weapons.

Procurement in Sweden

Our Service’s goal is to prevent procurement attempts, mainly through information efforts.

In order for our Service, other law-enforcement agencies and export control authorities to detect such attempts, intensive intelligence work, information sharing and close collaboration are required.

State-sponsored acquisition of expertise

Expertise gained by Sweden from its cutting-edge research in certain areas could also potentially be used in WMD programmes. Several states that the Security Service suspects of having WMD programmes require advanced research expertise from outside their own countries.

States needing to advance their expertise could send researchers to universities abroad, or initiate a collaborative project between one of their universities and a Swedish university. In such cases, the focus is usually on areas where the expertise gained could be used both for civilian purposes and in WMD programmes.