Official consideration of the implications of Hiroshima for Swiss defence policy began in 1945, under the auspices of an internal government commission.1 For the next decade, it was military officers, writing in their specialised journals, who stimulated public interest in the question of whether the Swiss armed forces should be equipped with nuclear weapons.2 Given the citizens’ militia basis of Swiss defence, this dominance is not surprising.


Nuclear Weapon Enrichment Plant Social Democratic Party Federal Council Military Affair 
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  1. 1.
    Jerry Wilson Ralston, ‘The Defence of Small States in the Nuclear Age: The Case of Sweden and Switzerland’, University of Geneva, unpublished doctoral dissertation (1971), p. 197.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    For an extensive bibliography cf. George Schwab, ‘The Swiss Atomic Debate and its Implications’, New York, Columbia University unpublished doctoral dissertation (1968), appendix III. An authoritative Swiss account of the debate on nuclear weapons and the NPT is to be found in Theodor Winkler, Kernenergie und Aussenpolitik (Berlin: Berlin Verlag, 1981).Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    Ibid., pp. 191–4; Rudolf L. Bindschedler, ‘Switzerland’, in Jozef Goldblat (ed.), Non-Proliferation: The Why and the Wherefore (London: Taylor and Francis for SIPRI, 1985), p. 221.Google Scholar
  4. 13.
    Hans Rudolf Siegrist, ‘Von der Wasserkraft zur Kernenergie’, in Die Schweizerische Energiewirtschaft (Berne: Federal Office of Energy, 1981), p. 43.Google Scholar
  5. 17.
    On Swiss involvement in the NPT negotiations, see Enid Schoettle, Postures for Non-Proliferation: Arms Limitation and Security Policies to Minimize Nuclear Proliferation (London: Taylor and Francis for SIPRI, 1979), pp. 106, 123, quoting memoranda to the ENDC.Google Scholar
  6. 23.
    H. Bay et al., ‘Need for improved uranium utilisation in Swiss nuclear power plants’, paper presented to IAEA conference, Mol, Belgium, May 1984, p. 24. Another Swiss commentator, quoting a period of 18 months as the maximum possible for spent fuel intended for recycling, gives figures of 3–26 months for the times taken for the granting of permission for plutonium re-use in the Swiss fast-breeder at Würenlingen, and longer for its re-use in MOX fuel for light-water reactors. Jacques Rognon, ‘The consumer’s interests and strategies’, paper presented to Atomic Industrial Forum Conference, May 1987, p. 5.Google Scholar
  7. 27.
    During the period of construction (in the late 1970s and early 1980s) Sulzer apparently failed to inform the Swiss (or any other) government of its subsidiary’s involvement in the enrichment plant being secretly built at Pilcaniyeu in Argentina. See Leonard S. Spector, The New Nuclear Nations (New York: Vintage Books for Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1985), pp. 60–1; and New Scientist, 8 December 1983, p. 718. It has been argued that the nature of the work (construction of the ventilation/cooling system) made it difficult to guess the purpose of the plant. This is surely disingenuous, not least because Sulzer was known to have installed such systems in the New Labs reprocessing facility in Pakistan. For the rest, it is still unclear whether the operation in Argentina was known of at the headquarters of the firm in Switzerland. Given the sensitivity of nuclear activities in threshold states, however, it can be argued that the parent firm had a duty to inform itself of the dealings of its subsidiary; ignorance in such cases is no excuse.Google Scholar
  8. 28.
    This account is based on Steve Weissman and Herbert Krosney, The Islamic Bomb: The Nuclear Threat to Israel and the Middle East (New York: Times Books, 1981), pp. 182–4, 190–1 and 297, and interviews in Berne.Google Scholar
  9. 30.
    Rudolf Rometsch, ‘Die Schweiz und die Nichtverbreitung von Kernwaffen’, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 19 February 1988.Google Scholar
  10. 40.
    For an independent outline of this idea, see Curt Gasteyger and René Haug, Schweiz und Rüstungskontrolle: Schweizerische Auβenpolitik vor neuen Aufgaben (Chur: Verlag Rüegger, 1986).Google Scholar

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© Harald Müller 1991

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  • Peter Lomas

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