The opposition is worried that the defense pact does not prohibit the deployment of American nuclear weapons US service member on a HIMARS, taking part in Baltops 24 military drills alongside Swedish troops, in Uto, Sweden, June 11, 2024 © Getty Images / Narciso Contreras/Anadolu

Lawmakers in Stockholm have approved a controversial defense pact with Washington, which allows American troops onto 17 Swedish military bases and training sites. Critics have blasted the agreement for not explicitly barring US nuclear weapons from being deployed in the country.

The Defense Cooperation Agreement (DCA) was signed between Swedish Defense Minister Pal Jonson and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in December of last year, but needed parliamentary approval to enter into force. On Tuesday, MPs in Stockholm overwhelmingly backed the DCA, with 266 MPs voting in favor, 37 against, while 46 were absent. As a high stakes vote, a three quarters majority with more than half of lawmakers present was needed for the bill to pass.

The agreement was opposed by the Left and Green parties, who argued that the pact should explicitly state that Sweden would not host nuclear weapons.

NATO’s newest member could host US nukes – PM NATO’s newest member could host US nukes – PM

“We want to see legislation that bans nuclear weapons from being brought onto Swedish soil,” Green Party MP Emma Berginger said in parliament during Tuesday’s proceedings, arguing the pact “doesn’t close the door to nuclear weapons.”

The Swedish Peace and Arbitration Association, a major anti-war non-profit organization, slammed the move as one that increases tensions and security risks for Sweden, claiming it betrays voters’ expectations for a nuclear-free nation.

“Unlike in Norway and Denmark’s DCA pacts, the Swedish agreement contains no reservation against nuclear weapons,” the group’s head Kerstin Bergea wrote in an op-ed after the vote. Neighboring Finland, which joined NATO in 2022, has a national law barring nuclear weapons from their territory, and their DCA pact with the US refers to it, Bergea pointed out.

NATO chief saber-rattling with nuclear weapons – Kremlin NATO chief saber-rattling with nuclear weapons – Kremlin

Sweden, a member of the US-led military bloc since March, will allow American troops, vehicles and aircraft unimpeded passage across the country. The Pentagon will also be allowed to set up its own facilities at existing Swedish military bases. The presence of US personnel will be regulated by the US rather than local laws.

Earlier this month, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov pointed out the numerous waves of NATO expansion has made Europe less safe. Moscow has no territorial disputes or points of tension with the US-led military bloc’s new members Sweden or Finland, he stressed, admitting that NATO military infrastructure will no doubt be hosted on their soil. Stockholm and Helsinki “understand this would lead to consequences for their own security,” he said. (RT)