Ministers refuse to release nuclear-bomb file

The Swiss cabinet says it will destroy sensitive documents in a nuclear-arms smuggling case despite demands that the complete file be handed over.

This content was published on July 8, 2009

President Hans-Rudolf Merz told Swiss public radio on Wednesday that ministers still planned to shred certain documents believed to contain nuclear-warhead designs. Switzerland, a non-nuclear power, is not permitted to have such plans under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Investigators say the documents are crucial evidence in the Tinner family nuclear-smuggling case. Urs, Marco and Friedrich Tinner, Swiss engineers with dealings in a centrifuge business, have been the focus of an investigation into suspected ties to Abdul Qadeer Kahn, the father of Pakistan's nuclear programme and a renowned weapons smuggler.

The Tinners have maintained their innocence. Urs Tinner has claimed he was working for American spies when word leaked that a Libya-bound ship in an Italian port was carrying centrifuge parts needed to make a bomb. The bust forced Libya to admit its nuclear ambitions, which it later abandoned.

The cabinet secretly destroyed the most sensitive documents in the case in November 2007 but not before making copies. Merz said on Wednesday that those copies would now be destroyed.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has said that Switzerland is capable of safely storing the documents. Parliamentarians have also argued there is no international obligation to destroy the file. and agencies

In compliance with the JTI standards

In compliance with the JTI standards

More: SWI certified by the Journalism Trust Initiative

Contributions under this article have been turned off. You can find an overview of ongoing debates with our journalists here. Please join us!

If you want to start a conversation about a topic raised in this article or want to report factual errors, email us at

Sort by

Change your password

Do you really want to delete your profile?

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Almost finished... We need to confirm your email address. To complete the subscription process, please click the link in the email we just sent you.

Weekly top stories

Keep up to date with the best stories from SWI on a range of topics, straight into your mailbox.


The SBC Privacy Policy provides additional information on how your data is processed.