Nuclear energy is a key tool to reduce dependence on Russian oil and gas while also helping provide a cheaper alternative as Europe faces a heating crisis this winter, according to Sweden’s minister for foreign affairs.
Tobias Billström, who assumed his role in October as minister of foreign affairs told Fox News Digital his government believes it needs “to step up when it comes to building more nuclear power” because Sweden is a small nation and needs “safe, clean, secure energy” that is “cheap.”
“We want to see more nuclear reactors being built,” Billström said during an interview at the Aspen Security Forum in Washington, D.C. “We’re talking about doing this with a system of credits, but we’re in close collaboration and contact with Swedish industry to be able to finance the building of new nuclear reactors.”
Nuclear energy has proven a contentious issue in Europe over the past decade, with Germany moving to shut down its plants and France planning to build new plants as various nations reconsider the best direction when it comes to nuclear power. Germany’s Minister of State, Tobias Lindner, recently told Fox News Digital “resistance against nuclear energy” is part of the “DNA of German society.”
Energy prices have soared due to sanctions on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine and as a result of Moscow drastically reducing gas supplies to Europe, including indefinitely shutting down its Nord Stream 1 pipeline.
Asked if Europe should do more to reduce its energy dependence on Russia, Billström agreed, and noted that Russia’s “aggression in Ukraine” showed “exactly how precarious [the] whole situation is.”
“We should all take very seriously the situation that has occurred with so many countries facing a dire situation when it comes to the cost to households due to steep energy pricing,” Billström said.
In contrast with many other European countries, Sweden does not depend on Russian gas, but Russia remains a chief concern — so much so that Sweden voted to join NATO after decades of neutrality over security concerns.
Stockholm has worked to strengthen its ties with the U.S. and other allies to better secure itself in the face of potential threats, including cyberattacks.
“We would like to have closer collaboration and cooperation on a bilateral level between the U.S. and Sweden, because we know and we believe that we can offer a lot of things for cybersecurity, both with technological resources, but also with intelligence,” Billström explained.
Billström noted that the U.S. and Sweden have a “very good” relationship, relating how he has experienced “nothing but goodwill from representatives of the Congress and from the administration” during his visit to Washington D.C.
“I really look forward, both as the foreign minister of Sweden” and in Sweden’s capacity as the incoming holder of the presidency of the Council of the European Union “to maintain those good relations, to expand them and to see that the U.S., Sweden and Europe are in a good concerted mode,” Billström said.
That partnership extends to addressing the People’s Republic of China, with Billström noting the need for “close cooperation between the E.U. and the U.S. when it comes to China issues.”
The U.S. and Sweden are also providing a united front against Iran. Stockholm strongly condemned Tehran’s recent execution of a protester after three months of demonstrations following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini.
“We look on very seriously as we see Iran now embarking on this method of trying to quench what is ultimately, you know, a belief of freedom and a will of freedom among these women and girls in the streets of Tehran and other cities,” Billström said.
“I personally have been very vocal on the need to have this on the agenda. On the next Foreign Ministers Council meeting in Brussels, Iran will be a specific item on the agenda thanks to the Swedish government’s efforts to bring it there.”
“I think we should stand side by side with those who want to have freedom of expression on the streets of Iran,” he added. “The women and girls are now paying a very high price for the brutality being beated out by security forces,” he added. “We have to show Iran that that kind of method is unacceptable.”