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Weinberger: Sweden Let Subs In

March 8, 2000

STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) _ Former U.S. Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger said Tuesday that Sweden allowed NATO submarines to enter its waters to test Sweden’s coastal defenses during the Cold War, despite its long-standing policy of neutrality.

``The cooperation was in the interest of both parties,″ Weinberger, who was defense secretary under former President Reagan, said during an interview in his Washington office with the investigative Swedish Television program ``Striptease″.

Weinberger, 83, stressed that the tests did not violate the country’s sovereignty.

``NATO subs never entered Swedish waters without being given approval beforehand,″ Weinberger said. ``My understanding is that there were consultations that they would be doing certain tests that the Swedish government agreed they should do.″

But his comments, which were confirmed by several military experts, raised new questions about previously reported submarine violations of the Scandinavian country’s territorial waters as well as its highly valued neutrality policy. Sweden has not fought a war since 1815.

Submarine activity was often the subject of controversy during the Cold War and Sweden launched two commissions to investigate alleged intrusions, the first in 1983, two years after a Soviet submarine was found grounded off the southeast coast.

The first commission fingered the Soviet Union and Sweden lodged a protest with the Soviet government. A second commission in 1995 failed to identify intruders by nationality.

Many military officials and politicians said they had never heard of the NATO exercises.

``You need some sort of agreement to do a thing like this. But I know nothing of such an agreement,″ said Admiral Per Rudberg, head of the navy from 1978 to 1984.

Current Defense Minister Bjoern von Sydow said he was surprised, but added, ``I have no reason to question what a former U.S. defense secretary is saying.″

Sir John Walker, a former head of Britain’s military intelligence, said NATO wanted to test Swedish antisubmarine forces.

``If you were going to operate inside the Stockholm archipelago, you wanted to make sure that the Swedes would not attack you with torpedoes,″ Walker said, adding that NATO was ``allowed a certain amount of intrusion during a given period.″