Pengolodh (s.c) (pengolodh_sc) wrote,
Pengolodh (s.c)
pengolodh_sc

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Another article, this time concerning how USA categorically did not want Norway to develop its own nuclear weapons in the late 40s and early 50s. We (and Sweden) were closer than one might normally think, as it happens.

This one is also from Aftenposten. Again, the article does not currently exist in English language, and so I translate it - I believe some readers here will find it interesting.

"USA feared Norwegian nuclear weapons"

USA feared that Norway would develop its own nuclear weapons in the first years after the Second World War, and on two occasions put pressure on Norway to prevent this.

By: ROBERT GJERDE and OLE NYGAARD

This is revealed in an article by head of research at the Norwegian Nobel Institute, Olav Njølstad, who will present the article at a conference about intelligence during the cold war, in Oslo today (April 29th 2005).

According to Njølstad US intelligence kept a close watch on Norway during the first years of the cold war.  The causes were Norway's unique position as a leading exporter of heavy water, and Norway's pioneering role within development of nuclear technology.  Norway had already in 1951 established a research reactor, only the "giants" USA, Great Britain, Canada, Russia and France were earlier.

- Viewed from Washington it would not serve USA's security if Norway, potentially in cooperation with neighbouring Sweden, developed its own nuclear weapons.  USA would also not like to see any other countries, for instance France, succeeding in developing nuclear weapons with the help of heavy water from Norway, writes Njølstad.

In the first years after the nuclear bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki had ended the Second World War, it was of great importance to USA that no other countries should develop nuclear weapons.

Intelligence personnel from USA's embassies in Oslo and Stockholm followed Norwegian activity in the area keenly.

The Americans were not shy of exercising "friendly" pressure towards both institutions and key persons in the Norwegian "establishment" within nuclear energy to push Norwegian policy in the direction that suited the Americans.

Two occasions
Njølstad points out two concrete episodes where the Americans pressured Norway.

In 1947-48 the Americans warned against the Norwegian-Swedish attempt to develop and enrich their own uranium.  USA claimed it might expose the countries to Soviet aggression.  Sweden retained plans to develop indigenous nuclear weapons into the 1960s.

In 1950, in the middle of Norwegian-French talks on an ambitious nuclear energy agreement, the Americans intervened again.  Norway was warned against being in contact with the French, because the head of the French nuclear energy programme allegedly was a Communist.  USA claimed that a cooperation with the French would be more useful for the USSR than for Norway.

- The pressure paid off in both cases, writes Njølstad.

When Norway entered NATO in 1949 there was an end to the uranium-cooperation with Sweden.  One year later Norway declined to sign a fully negotiated agreement about a French-Norwegian "nuclear energy union".

Support from Hauge.
The American fear of Norwegian nuclear weapons was not at all without cause.  In the book "Fryktens Likevekt" (2001) (means "Balance of Fear" or "Balance of Terror") researchers Kjetil Skogrand and Rolf Tamnes write that the FFI, Norwegian Armed Forces Research Institute, for a short while just after the Second World War had an ambition to produce Norwegian nuclear weapons some time in the future.  These ambitions were, according to the book, supported by the then Minister of Defence Jens Chr. Hauge.  But the plans to develop Norwegian nuclear weapons never became a declared, official policy.

- The Norwegian plans were in reality abandoned in 1949, when the civilian Institute for Nuclear Energy was established, and finally abandoned when Norway joined NATO in 1949.  It soon became clear that producing nuclear weapons would be very demanding financially for small countries.  The political objections spread quickly.  Norway solved its defence needs by moving in under the US nuclear umbrella, says researcher Kjetil Skogrand at the institute for Defence Studies (IFS).

Concern until 1950
Head of research at IFS, Olav Riste, says that the Americans were very concerned that nobody except USA should have access to nuclear weapons.

- Norwegian NATO membership was not by itself a guarantee that Norway would not develop nuclear weapons on its own.  But Norway would have been unlikely to do so, regardless of what associations the country would have gone for on the part of defence.  It was not until 1950-51 that the Americans realised they did not have to be concerned about Norway in this context, says Riste.

The Institute for Defence Studies hosts a researcher conference on intelligence and espionage during the cold war today and tomorrow.  A number of internationally acclaimed researchers will present research on the topic at this conference, at Soria Moria Conference Centre in Oslo.

King Haakon greets director Gunnar Randers during the opening of the Nuclear Institute at Kjeller outside Oslo November 28th 1951.  At that time Norway had abandoned its plans for nuclear weapons.  PHOTO: SCANPIX
King Haakon greets director Gunnar Randers during the opening of the Nuclear Institute at Kjeller outside Oslo November 28th 1951.  At that time Norway had abandoned its plans for nuclear weapons.
PHOTO: SCANPIX

Minister of Foreign Affairs Halvard Lange (left) and Prime Minister Einar Gerhardsen were the architects behind Norwegian foreign politics following the Second World War.  PHOTO: SCANPIX
Minister of Foreign Affairs Halvard Lange (left) and Prime Minister Einar Gerhardsen were the architects behind Norwegian foreign politics following the Second World War.
PHOTO: SCANPIX

The civilian nuclear reactor at Kjeller was among the first in the world.  PHOTO: SCANPIX
The civilian nuclear reactor at Kjeller was among the first in the world.
PHOTO: SCANPIX
Facts
NUCLEAR POLICY
The first nuclear bomb was dropped over Hiroshima August 6th 1945
Norwegian plans for nuclear bombs were dropped in 1948
The first Russian nuclear test was carried out in 1949
Norway joined NATO in 1949
First Norwegian experimental reactor in 1951, the first reactor in a small nation
During the 1950s and -60s, debate about deployment of US nuclear weapons in Norway.  Norwegian no.
Nuclear non-proliferation agreement in 1968.

NORWEGIAN MOVERS
Einar Gerhardsen, Prime Minister 1945-51 and 1955-65. He said no to nuclear weapons on Norwegian soild during the NATO-meeting in 1957
Jens Chr. Hauge, Minister of Defence 1945-52.
Halvard Lange, Minister of Foreign Affairs 1946-65
All three were central when Norway joined NATO in 1949.  Lange was in a slight opposition to Gerhardsen in the matter of deploying US nuclear weapons on Norwegian soil, and did not wish to rule it out quite as categorically as Gerhardsen.
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