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July - August 2007

Welcome to the third edition of Proliferation in Parliament, a service from the Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy. This month's edition includes a number of significant Government policy statements.

In Written Answers to Parliament, Foreign Office Minister Dr Kim Howells confirmed that the government's policy on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament would follow the course set out in previous Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett's speech to the Carnegie international conference in June (see Proliferation in Parliament, June 2007).

In an adjournment debate (a short, non-decision-making debate) on July 24, obtained by Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn, the Foreign Office Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State Meg Munn also confirmed the government's commitment to the NPT and the 13 steps agreed at the 2000 NPT Review Conference, but insisted that the UK's decision to renew Trident "did not reverse or undermine" any its "positive disarmament steps".

Unusually, the Ministry of Defence accounts, published on July 23, included significant sections on Trident renewal, reflecting that this will be one of the major financial commitments for the Ministry in the coming years.

On the eve of Parliament's summer recess, on July 25, the Government also announced a large increase in defence spending of £7.7bn over the next three years, as a result of the Treasury's Comprehensive Spending Review, including £1bn per annum during the CSR years to "maintain a Strategic Deterrent, which will not be at the expense of current operations". On the same day announcements were made of a £1 billion partnering arrangement with Rolls-Royce for the in-service support of the nuclear steam raising plant that powers the Royal Navy's submarines over the next decade and that the Clyde, Portsmouth and Plymouth Naval bases would all be maintained.

In a written statement to parliament, also on July 25, Secretary of State for Defence Des Browne announced that the upgrade of early warning radar at RAF Fylingdales as part of US ballistic missile defence plans has been completed and that the new system will begin operating in August 2007. Browne also announced that at RAF Menwith Hill equipment will be installed and operated by the US Government to allow receipt of satellite warnings of potentially hostile missile launches, as part of the missile defence programme. In a bullish statement, Browne insisted that the UK government "welcome US plans to place further missile defence assets in Europe to address the emerging threat from rogue states" and that, "These developments reflect the Government's continuing commitment to supporting the development of the US missile defence system."

In this month's issue:

An archive of parliamentary coverage will also be available on our website at: www.acronym.org.uk/parliament. We welcome your comments and feedback. Please send your comments to info@acronym.org.uk.


Trident and UK Nuclear Programme

Comprehensive Spending Review and Defence Spending

NATO and Nuclear Weapons

Missile Defence


Nuclear Non-Proliferation


North Korea


Nuclear Test Veterans

Depleted Uranium

Key to House of Commons Column Numbering

W Written Answers, House of Commons
WS Written Ministerial Statements, House of Commons
Column number with no letters Oral Proceedings in the House of Commons

Trident and the UK Nuclear Programme

Clyde Submarine Base, House of Commons, Written Answers, 9 July 2007, Column 1283W

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he will consider the recommendations of the naval base review in respect of Faslane, when published, from the point of view of his role as (a) Secretary of State for Defence and (b) Secretary of State for Scotland; and if he will make a statement on resolving potential conflicts of interest.

Des Browne [holding answer 4 July 2007]: Defence is a reserved matter and, as such, all decisions relating to military capability, including the naval base review, are taken on the basis of what is best for defence and what provides value for money for the taxpayer.


Transport: AWE Burghfield, House of Commons, Written Answers, 9 July, Column 1286W

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what was transported in the convoy which moved from AWE Burghfield to RAF Brize Norton on 11 June 2007; what the destination was of the transported goods; and what escorts for the convoy were in place.

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: I am withholding the information as its release would, or would be likely to, prejudice national security.


Nuclear Weapons: Transport, House of Commons, Written Answers, 10 July 2007, Column 1363W

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will (a) instigate a moratorium on transporting nuclear warheads to Scotland by road during the current critical security alert and (b) ensure that any warheads currently ready for delivery are disassembled and remain at the Atomic Weapons Establishment.

10 July 2007 : Column 1364W

Des Browne: The safety and security of the UK nuclear weapons is paramount. Any transportation is kept to a minimum consistent with operational requirements and all such movements are kept under constant review. This includes an advance evaluation of all relevant factors, including the risks and threats prevalent at the time, and involves close liaison with all appropriate stakeholders, including the civil authorities. Each movement is subject to procedures that are robust and sensitive to changing circumstances and priorities, commensurate with national defence and security requirements.


Trident, House of Commons, Written Answers, 12 July 2007, Column 1600W

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the estimated ongoing in-service costs are of the Trident replacement over its 30 year life span how much is accounted for by (a) facilities and revenue costs at Aldermaston, (b) new missiles required to carry the warheads, (c) Military Defence Police (MDP) costs for guarding (i) Aldermaston, (ii) Burghfield and (iii) Coulport and (d) MDP costs for escorting the convoys; and if he will make a statement.

Des Browne: As paragraph 5-14 of the White Paper: 'The Future of the United Kingdom's Nuclear Deterrent' (column 6994) makes clear, in-service costs of the UK's nuclear deterrent, including the costs of the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE), will on average be around five to six per cent., of the defence budget once the proposed fleet of replacement SSBNs comes into service. Further information on the costs of replacing the Trident D5 missile and the costs of the AWE are included in paragraphs 5-11 and 5-13 of the White Paper respectively. The future costs of the Ministry of Defence Police for guarding Aldermaston, Burghfield and Coulport and for escorting nuclear convoys, which are included in the in-service cost mentioned above, are expected to be similar to today however, it is too early to provide a precise estimate.


BNFL, House of Commons, Written Statement, 16 July 2007, Column 1WS

The Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Mr. John Hutton): Further to the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry's announcement on 24 October 2006, Official Report column 85WS, regarding the sale by British Nuclear Fuels Ltd. (BNFL) of British Nuclear Group (BNG) and establishment of a National Nuclear Laboratory, I would like to announce that BNFL has commenced the process to sell the group's one third stake in Atomic Weapons Establishment Management Ltd. (AWEML). AWEML is currently owned equally by BNFL, Serco and Lockheed Martin. In addition to seeking to maximise shareholder return through the sale process, the Government and BNFL will seek to ensure an AWEML consortium is in place to manage the enduring performance of AWEML's subsidiary, AWE plc. in continuing to meet the requirements of its customer, the Ministry of Defence.

I will update Parliament on the progress of the sale at a later date.


Radioactive Materials: Transport, House of Commons, Written Answers, 17 July 2007, Column 201W

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 9 July 2007, Official Report, column 1286W, on transport: AWE Burghfield, under what circumstances special nuclear materials convoys travel from AWE Burghfield without (a) a visible police escort and (b) emergency support vehicles; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: I am withholding the information as its release would, or would be likely to, prejudice national security.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether local incident management plans are put in place when special nuclear materials convoys travel from AWE Burghfield; and whether local authorities are informed before those convoys travel.

17 July 2007 : Column 202W

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The transportation of nuclear and other hazardous materials is governed by the Radioactive Material (Road Transport) (Great Britain) Regulations 2002 and the Carriage of Dangerous Goods and Use of Transportable Pressure Equipment Regulations 2004 (as amended in 2005). Although the Department is exempt from the regulations, it is nevertheless MOD policy to comply with their principles although they place no obligation on a carrier to inform local authorities. The publicly available Local Authority Emergency Services Information (LAESI) document provides the emergency services, local and health authorities with information on contingency arrangements for the transport of Special Nuclear Material.


Trident, House of Commons Written Answers, 19 July 2007, Column 523W

Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what expenditure has been incurred since 14 March 2007 on (a) the Trident D5 missile life extension programme and (b) the initial review of the need to replace the Vanguard-class ballistic-missile submarine platform for Trident D5 nuclear weapons systems.

Des Browne [holding answer 18 July 2007]: No expenditure has been incurred since 14 March 2007 on the Trident D5 missile life extension programme. The programme to replace the Vanguard-class ballistic-missile submarine platform incurred expenditure of around £900,000 from 1 April to 30 June 2007, the most recent quarter for which information is available.


MoD Accounts, published, 23 July 2007, excerpts on Trident

Independent Nuclear Deterrent

30. The UK’s Trident submarine force continued to provide a constant and independent nuclear deterrent capability at sea, in support of NATO and as the ultimate guarantee of our national security. The MoD continues to make the necessary investment at the Atomic Weapons Establishment Aldermaston to ensure that it has the requisite facilities and skills to maintain a safe and reliable Trident warhead stockpile and to prepare for decisions, likely to be necessary in the next Parliament, on the possible refurbishment or replacement of the existing warhead. [page 35]


77. Deterrence aims to convince a potential adversary that the consequence of a particular course of action outweighs the potential gains. All the UK’s military capabilities, conventional and nuclear, have a role to play in this. The fundamental principles underpinning nuclear deterrence have not changed since the end of the Cold War. However deterrence in the 21st Century is going to be more complex in a multi-faceted and more fragmented security environment, populated by an array of potential adversaries and presenting less predictable security challenges. The UK’s deterrence posture must therefore remain flexible enough to respond to these potential challenges, in whatever form they present themselves. The publication in December 2006 of the Government’s White Paper The Future of the United Kingdom’s Nuclear Deterrent (see essay on page 60), which Parliament approved in March 2007, sets out this position against a particular range of possible future risks and challenges. Nuclear weapons continue to provide the ultimate guarantee of the UK’s security by deterring and preventing nuclear blackmail and acts of aggression against the UK’s vital interests that cannot be countered by other means. The UK will retain only the minimum amount of destructive power required to achieve deterrence objectives. The Government deliberately maintains ambiguity about precisely when, how and at what scale the UK would contemplate using nuclear weapons. To do otherwise would simplify the calculations of a potential aggressor by defining more precisely the circumstances in which the Government might consider the use of the UK’s nuclear capabilities. However, the Government has made clear many times over many years that the UK would only contemplate using nuclear weapons in extreme circumstances of self-defence and in accordance with the UK’s international legal obligations. [page 55]

Essay – The Future of the UK’s Nuclear Deterrent

The United Kingdom’s nuclear deterrent has been a central plank of our national security strategy for fifty years. Over this time no country has ever used a nuclear weapon, nor has there been a single significant conflict between the world’s major powers. The UK’s nuclear deterrent, within NATO, helped make this happen. Following detailed assessment and analysis, the Government set out its plans to maintain the UK’s nuclear deterrent capability in a White Paper, The Future of the United Kingdom’s Nuclear Deterrent, published in December 2006. After three months of extensive public and Parliamentary discussion and debate, the House of Commons voted in March 2007 to endorse the Government’s plans.

The timing of these decisions was driven by the life of the Vanguard class submarines and the time it will take to develop replacements. The Department’s analysis demonstrated that it was highly unlikely to be technically feasible or cost effective to extend the life of the Vanguard class beyond around 30 years, which already represents a five-year extension to their original design life. Equally, all the Department’s experience, and that of industry, France and the US, is that it will take around 17 years to design, build and deploy new ballistic-missile carrying submarines. Given that the second of the Vanguard class is expected to leave service around 2024, this means detailed concept and assessment work needs to begin in 2007 if the UK is to avoid a risk of a gap in deterrence coverage.

The Rationale for retaining a Nuclear Deterrent

The Government believes that the concept of deterrence is just as relevant now as it was during the Cold War. Deterrence is about dissuading a potential adversary from carrying out a particular act because of the consequences of your likely retaliation. This is not an especially complex or unique concept. Nor does it have anything inherently to do with nuclear weapons, or superpower blocs. The United Kingdom’s and our Allies’ conventional forces are themselves a form of deterrent; they can and do deter various different kinds of states and non-state actors even in today’s post-Cold War world.

But nuclear weapons are unique in terms of their destructive power, and as such, only nuclear weapons can deter nuclear threats. No country currently possesses both the capability and intent to threaten the United Kingdom’s vital interests with nuclear weapons. But the Government has concluded that it is impossible to be certain that, over the next 20 to 50 years, such a threat may not re-emerge. This is not just a question of uncertainty, although it is important to be realistic about the potential to predict with confidence the strategic developments over these extended periods. There are also identifiable risks and trends of concern. Large nuclear arsenals remain around the world, some of which are being modernised and expanded. Despite international efforts to counter nuclear proliferation, the number of countries with nuclear weapons continues to grow, albeit less quickly than some have predicted. And the Government remains concerned at the implications should international terrorists get access to nuclear weapons.

The Government will continue to maintain only the minimum capability the United Kingdom requires. But it believes the best way to achieve the goal of a world in which there is no place for nuclear weapons is through a process of international dialogue and negotiation. The next steps in this process should be the early entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the beginning of negotiations without preconditions on a Fissile Material Cut Off Treaty which, if successful, would end the production of weapon-useable nuclear material. But this will inevitably take time. And in the interim, the Government has a responsibility to take the steps necessary to ensure our national security and this includes retention of a minimum, independent nuclear deterrent. [page 60]

Renewing Trident

The White Paper set out three main decisions:

  • to extend the lives of the current Vanguard-class submarines from their original design life of at least 25 years to 30 years, and to start work to procure a new class of ballistic-missile submarines to replace the Vanguard-class;
  • to participate in the life extension programme for the Trident D5 missile, to enable us to keep that missile in service through to the 2040s; and
  • further to reduce the number of operationally available warheads from fewer than 200 to fewer than 160.

Key to the decision to retain a submarine based deterrent was the requirement to ensure the credibility of the United Kingdom’s deterrent posture. And fundamental to credibility is the need for the deterrent to be invulnerable to pre-emptive attack, to be able to sustain a high degree of readiness, and to be able to deliver the required destructive power wherever might be required for effective deterrence. There were no credible alternatives to retaining a submarine-based system. All the other options were significantly more vulnerable to pre-emptive attack and all were at least as expensive as the submarine option, some significantly more so. This analysis also led to the conclusion that it was necessary for the foreseeable future for the United Kingdom to continue the existing posture of continuously maintaining a single submarine on deterrent patrol.

The Government’s initial estimate is that the cost of procuring a new class of submarines will be in the range £11-14Bn (at 2006-07 prices) for a four submarine solution. This investment will not come at the expense of the conventional capabilities that Armed Forces need. Participation in the Trident D5 life extension programme will cost around £250M and the estimate also includes some £2-3Bn on renewing infrastructure to support the deterrent over the lifetime of the new submarines. The Government will also continue to invest in sustaining capabilities at the Atomic Weapons Establishment. The bulk of these costs are likely to be incurred 2012 to 2027. Once the new submarines come into service, the running costs of the nuclear deterrent are expected to be similar to those of today.

Future Decisions

The Government envisages placing contracts for the detailed design and manufacture of the new submarines in the period 2012-14. It has yet to decide whether the United Kingdom will require a fleet of three or four submarines to meet future deterrent requirements. Four Vanguard-class submarines are needed to sustain continuous deterrent patrols, but work will be undertaken to assess the scope for sufficiently radical design, operating and support changes to enable the MoD to maintain continuous deterrent patrols with a fleet of only three. It is likely to be necessary to decide on any refurbishment or replacement of our existing nuclear warhead in the next Parliament. Such a programme might involve procurement costs of some £2-3Bn. Decisions on any replacement for the Trident D5 missile are unlikely to be necessary until the 2020s. In all this, the Government will continue to work closely with the United States. Details of this collaboration were set out in an exchange of letters between the Prime Minister and the President of the United States, signed in December 2006.


AWE Aldermaston: Press, House of Commons, Written Answers, 23 July 2007, Column 680W

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the cost to the public purse was of holding the media open day at AWE Aldermaston in June 2007; what plans he has to hold other such open days at atomic weapons establishment sites; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The only identifiable cost of the AWE media open day was £494.40. These costs were for catering and the production of press packs. There will have been other small unquantifiable costs associated with employees' time. The media open day was organised to coincide with an on-site exhibition for employees, contractors and their families. This was in response to the House of Commons Defence Committee's (HCDC) view that there was a case for greater openness regarding the work undertaken at

23 July 2007 : Column 681W

AWE. The Government response to the HCDC's report 'The Future of the UK's Strategic Nuclear Deterrent: the Manufacturing and Skills Base' (HC 59 dated 19 December 2006) provides further details.

Currently we have no plans to hold another media open day at an AWE site.


UK Civil Plutonium and Uranium Figures, House of Commons, Written Statement, 25 July 2007, Column 66WS

The Minister for Energy (Malcolm Wicks): The Department will be placing the figures for the United Kingdom's stocks of civil plutonium and uranium as at 31 December 2006 in the Libraries of both Houses. In accordance with our commitment under the "Guidelines for the Management of Plutonium", we will also send the figures to the Director General of the International

25 July 2007 : Column 66WS

Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), who will circulate them to Member States. The figures will be available on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the IAEA websites.

The figures show that stocks of unirradiated plutonium in the UK totalled 106.9 tonnes at the end of 2006. Changes from the corresponding figures for 2005 are a consequence of continuing reprocessing operations (e.g. as reflected in the increased quantity of unirradiated separated plutonium in product stores at reprocessing plants. High enriched uranium (HEU) stocks decreased mainly as a result of down-blending material recovered during decommissioning of the UK's gas diffusion enrichment plant. The increase in the civil depleted, natural and low enriched uranium figures reflects the increased stocks at the UK enrichment plant at Capenhurst.


Nuclear Steam Raising Plant, House of Commons, Written Statement, 25 July 2007, Column 76WS

The Minister for the Armed Forces (Mr. Bob Ainsworth): I am pleased to announce that a 10 year partnering contract worth up to £1 billion has been signed with Rolls-Royce, for the in-service support of Nuclear Steam Raising Plants which power the Royal Navy’s submarines. This contract is a key deliverable under the “Defence Industrial Strategy” published in December 2005.

This landmark 10-year contract marks a significant departure from former practices and will transform Rolls-Royce’s relationship with the Department in this sector. It will sustain the UK capability in the long-term, enable the risks and rewards to be managed jointly, and is a further example of partnering in action. Rolls-Royce and MOD will work together as a single, high-performing team, to improve performance and drive down costs. Savings of over £120 million are anticipated over the term of the contract.

The Nuclear Steam Raising Plant drives not only our current submarines but will also power the new Astute submarines. Rolls-Royce has been supplying Nuclear Steam Raising Plants to the Royal Navy for almost 50 years from their production site at Raynesway in Derby, and this new contract will help secure the future of staff working in this part of the business.

The contract sustains the UK’s capability to support Nuclear Steam Raising Plants, as stated in the defence industrial strategy, and uses the principles of the MOD’s procurement reform programme to develop more effective relationships with one of our top ten major industrial partners.

Today marks a significant achievement in securing the UK’s capability to support submarines in the future.


Transport: Radioactive Materials, House of Commons, Written Answers, 25 July 2007, Column 1071W

Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many accidents there were involving the transportation of radioactive material by (a) air, (b) road, (c) rail and (d) ship in each year since 1977.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Since 1989, annual reports detailing all abnormal events involving the transport of radioactive material in the UK have been prepared by the Health Protection Agency (HPA), working under contract to the Department for Transport. In addition, periodic reports have been produced examining trends in events since the late 1950s. The latest reports in these series are:

Radiological consequences resulting from accidents and incidents involving the transport of radioactive materials in the UK - 2005 review (HPA-RPD-021)

25 July 2007 : Column 1072W

Review of events involving the transport of radioactive materials in the UK, from 1958 to 2004, and their radiological consequences (HPA-RPD-014)

A full list of earlier reports can be found in the reference section of each report. The report detailing events that occurred during 2006 will be published later this year.

Copies of these reports have been placed in the House Library and recent ones are available on the HPA website. A list of recent reports is also available on the Department's website at the following address.



Atomic Weapons Establishment: Sales, House of Commons, Written Answers, 26 July 2007, Column 1247W

Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what safeguards the Government have put in place to ensure that (a) national security and (b) sensitive design and manufacture systems are safeguarded from foreign powers following the auction of the Government stake in the Atomic Weapons Establishment.

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: As indicated by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform in his written statement to the House on 16 July 2007, Official Report, column 1WS, as part of the process of the sale of British Nuclear Group's share in AWE Management Limited (AWEML), the Government will be seeking to ensure the enduring performance of AWEML in continuing to meet the requirements of its customer, the Ministry of Defence.

Such performance covers all aspects of work at the Atomic Weapons Establishment, with particular emphasis on the protection of national security and warhead design information, which are paramount considerations. We shall be applying a strict set of criteria in order to establish the acceptability of prospective purchasers before finalising an agreed shortlist of potential bidders. All factors will be taken into account in our analysis.


Trident, House of Commons, Written Answers, 26 July 2007, Column 1252W

Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects to make the first of the regular reports to Parliament on progress made in the Trident replacement programme, as referred to by the former Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on 14 March 2007, Official Report, column 309.

Des Browne: In accordance with the usual practice on major procurement projects, the first full progress report on the programme to maintain the UK's nuclear deterrent will be made after the Initial Gate for the new class of submarines, currently estimated to be in 2009. Interim reports will be provided depending on progress with the programme.


DSDA Longtown, House of Commons, Written Statement, 26 July 2007, Column 94WS

The Minister for the Armed Forces (Mr. Bob Ainsworth): I have now approved, effective from 1 August 2007, the early closure of the non-explosive (NE) elements of the Defence Storage and Distribution Agency (DSDA) site at Longtown.

Under the Future Defence Supply Chain Initiative (FDSCi) the MOD assessed a range of options for managing and operating the defence supply chain to reduce costs of ownership, while maintaining or improving service levels and enhancing operational capability. The selected option included plans for the withdrawal of all non-explosive storage from DSDA Longtown by mid-2009.

Since the announcement, work has been undertaken to design a stock relocation plan that will reposition Longtown non-explosive (NE) stocks to other retained DSDA sites. The stock relocation plan has matured and, as a consequence, it is now clear that DSDA has the opportunity to bring forward the planned Longtown NE closure date to the end of July 2007.

The proposal to withdraw NE stocks from Longtown early will affect 62 staff. Approximately 350 staff will be left at the site. Additional staff will be required for the ammunition box task (refurbishing ammo boxes), which transfers from the NE to the explosives business at the site on 31 July 2007. As a consequence there will be no early release scheme or compulsory redundancies.


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Comprehensive Spending Review and Defence Spending

CSR and Aircraft Carriers, House of Commons, Debate, 25 July 2007, Column 866

Introductory Statement by Secretary of State for Defence Des Browne. Full statement and questions and commentary available at:

The Secretary of State for Defence (Des Browne): ...

The creation of such a joint venture will enable the Royal Navy to work with industry to deliver the infrastructure that the Navy will need to support the fleet in the future while retaining all three of our existing naval bases at Portsmouth, Devonport and Faslane. This will be good news for the three communities and the service, civilian and contractor personnel employed at the bases. None the less, some reductions in the 17,600 personnel currently employed will be necessary and will be taken forward in consultation with trade unions in the usual way. We aim to rationalise infrastructure and spare capacity, streamline processes and build on partnering and other commercial arrangements. For example, today we are also announcing a £1 billion partnering arrangement with Rolls-Royce for the in-service support of the nuclear steam raising plant that powers the Royal Navy's submarines over the next decade.

See also:

Mod Press Release

New Carriers confirmed in Defence budget increase, 25 July 2007

Defence Secretary Des Browne has welcomed the announcement by the Government today, Wednesday 25 July 2007, which will see a £7.7bn increase in the defence budget over the next three years.

Today's announcement also paves the way for the purchase of two new aircraft carriers, a decision which will offer unprecedented capabilities for the UK's Armed Forces.

The settlement of the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) for defence breaks down into an annual budget of £34bn in 2008/9, £35.3bn in 2009/10 and £36.9bn in 2010/11.

This is an additional £7.7bn for Defence by 2011, equating to 1.5 per cent average annual real growth against our CSR baseline, which excludes the cost of operations and the time-limited Defence Modernisation Fund. In addition, The Treasury will continue to fund the additional cost of operations over and above the Defence Budget, having already invested some £6.6bn in supporting the front line since 2001...

The key outcomes for defence:

  • £1bn over the CSR years to maintain a Strategic Deterrent, which will not be at the expense of current operations;
  • MOD can proceed with two new aircraft carriers, which will be the largest ships ever sailed by the Royal Navy and a key part of modern expeditionary capability; an investment of £550m over the CSR years in Service accommodation, drawing on income from the anticipated sale of Chelsea Barracks.
  • This confirms our plans to spend £5bn over the next ten years on upgrading and maintaining Service families and single living accommodation...


MoD Press Release

Future of naval bases secure, 25 July 2007

The decision to retain Clyde, Portsmouth and Plymouth Naval Bases has been announced by the Ministry of Defence today, Wednesday 25 July 2007.

Des Browne, Secretary of State for Defence and Scotland, said today:

"I'm pleased to announce that Naval Bases at Clyde, Devonport and Portsmouth will lead the Royal Navy and Defence into the future with the new aircraft carriers. We are not only preserving history; we are also writing it.

"The aim of the Naval Base Review was to ensure that we have the right naval base infrastructure to meet the needs of the future Fleet. The Review has looked in great detail at the manpower, skills, infrastructure and future requirement at each naval base, and has concluded that the best option for defence – and each of the local areas – is to keep all three open.

"The conclusion follows the announcement today of an agreed budget for defence for the next three years, which includes the decision to buy the new carriers."

The naval bases, currently home to most of the Royal Navy's fleet of surface ships will maintain their world class status with Portsmouth becoming the home of two new aircraft carriers, the largest warships ever to be built in the UK.

For hundreds of years the three bases have evolved to meet the changing requirements of the Royal Navy. Further work will now be carried out to determine how to optimise the performance of each of these historic bases to ensure that they continue to support the needs of the front line.

This work will take place in conjunction with the Transforming Submarine Support and Transforming Ship Support initiatives. These change programmes are designed to ensure the bases and the Royal Navy are prepared to meet the demands of the future fleet.


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NATO and Nuclear Weapons

North Atlantic Council, House of Commons, Written Answers, June 21, 2007, Column 1992W

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the outcome of the North Atlantic Council defence ministers meeting on 14 and 15 June 2007.

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 19 June 2007]: NATO Defence Ministers discussed a range of issues including the continuing transformation of NATO's capabilities, missile defence, and operational commitments in Afghanistan and Kosovo. Force planning issues were discussed at the annual meeting of the Defence Planning Committee in Defence Ministers' Session, and nuclear planning issues at the Nuclear Planning Group.

In addition, Afghanistan's Defence Minister, Abdul Rahim Wardak attended a special session of the North Atlantic Council together with the non-NATO nations contributing to the International Security Assistance Force. Allies underlined their commitment to the mission in Afghanistan, noted the progress that has already been made, and stressed the importance of Afghan ownership of security issues. The Council noted that the UN had been given a wider remit in the current Security Council Resolution and supported the efforts of the UN to maximise its impact and to expand its presence in the provinces of Afghanistan.

The Council also condemned the Taliban practice of deliberately endangering the civilian population of Afghanistan and underlined NATO's commitment to avoiding civilian casualties.

A copy of the final communiqué of the North Atlantic Council in Defence Ministers' Session can be found at:



RAF Lakenheath: Nuclear Weapons, House of Commons, Written Answers, 18 July 2007, Column 405W

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many US nuclear weapons are based at USAF Lakenheath, Suffolk; and what plans there are to reduce the number.

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: NATO's Strategic Concept (paragraph 63) states that

"Nuclear forces based in Europe and committed to NATO provide an essential political and military link between the European and the North American members of the Alliance. The Alliance will therefore maintain adequate nuclear forces in Europe."

It is NATO and UK policy not to neither confirm nor deny the presence of nuclear weapons at a given location.


Nuclear Weapons: RAF Lakenheath, House of Commons, Written Answers, 23 July 2007, Column 688W

Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions he has had with his US counterpart on reducing the number of US free-fall nuclear bombs stored at RAF Lakenheath.

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has had with his US counterpart in respect of reducing the number of United States free-fall nuclear bombs stored at RAF Lakenheath.

23 July 2007 : Column 689W

Mr. Bob Ainsworth [holding answer 28 July 2007]: It is not the practice of the Government to make public details of all discussions with foreign Governments as this would, or would be likely to, prejudice international relations.


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Missile Defence

Ballistic Missile Defence, House of Commons, Written Answers, 21 June 2007, Column 1989W

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what contribution the UK has made to the study agreed at the NATO summit in Riga in 2006 on a collective alliance territorial missile defence system.

Des Browne: The missile defence feasibility study that was delivered to the NATO summit in 2006 was financed from NATO common funds to which the UK contributes. QinetiQ were part of the industrial consortium that undertook the work. In common with other NATO nations, the UK reviewed and commented upon the feasibility study, and contributes to the continuing discussions in NATO on the implications of missile defence for the alliance.


Ballistic Missile Defence, House of Commons, Written Answers, 25 June 2007, Column 111W

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made in developing a Space Based Infra-Red System (a) for the United Kingdom and (b) in collaboration with the United States.

Des Browne: The Space Based Infra Red System is a US programme with no involvement by the UK.


Ballistic Missile Defence, House of Commons, Written Answers, 29 June 2007, Column 878W

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will place in the Library a copy of the missile defence feasibility study that was delivered to the NATO summit in Riga in 2006.

Des Browne: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave on 26 June 2006, Official Report, column 165W, to the hon. Member for North Devon (Nick Harvey).


Ballistic Missile Defence, House of Commons, Written Statement, 25 July 2007, Column 71WS

The Secretary of State for Defence (Des Browne): On 5 February 2003 the the Secretary of State for Defence announced the Government's agreement to a request from the US to upgrade the Ballistic Missile Early Warning System radar at RAF Fylingdales. The UK already makes a contribution to US capability in the area of missile warning, through our operation of the radar at RAF Fylingdales. That upgrade process is now complete and we expect that the radar will switch its operations to the new equipment from August 2007. There is no change to the existing UK-US mission for the radar and the station remains under full UK command. Its primary mission is to warn of ballistic missile attack, with secondary functions of space surveillance and satellite warning. The radar will contribute to the US ballistic missile defence system, alongside a global network of other US-owned sensors based on land, at sea and in space and the data it produces is shared between the UK and US military authorities. The UK will have full insight into the operation of the US missile defence system when missile engagements take place that are wholly or partly influenced by data from the radar at RAF Fylingdales.

Also, at RAF Menwith Hill, equipment will be installed and operated by the US Government to allow receipt of satellite warnings of potentially hostile missile launches, and will pass this warning data to both UK and US authorities. The data will also be fed into the US ballistic missile defence system for use in their response to any missile attack on the US. This will guarantee the UK's continued access to essential missile attack warning data, as well as enhancing the US's ability to deal with any attack aimed at their country.

25 July 2007 : Column 72WS

The Government welcome US plans to place further missile defence assets in Europe to address the emerging threat from rogue states. We welcome assurances from the US that the UK and other European allies will be covered by the system elements they propose to deploy to Poland and the Czech Republic and we have been exploring ways in which the UK can continue to contribute to the US system as well as to any future NATO missile defence system.

These developments reflect the Government's continuing commitment to supporting the development of the US missile defence system. We continue to regard this system as a building block to enhance our national and collective security. NATO has made no decisions about acquiring missile defence for the alliance, and we want to examine how the US system can be complemented and built upon to provide wider coverage for Europe. We have no plans to site missile interceptors in the UK but will keep this under review as the threat evolves. We also want to reassure Russia about the defensive nature and intent of the US system as it develops and to take forward alliance cooperation with them in the field of missile defence.


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European Geo-Stationary Navigation Overlay System, Written Answers, 20 Jun 2007, Column 1799W

Graham Stringer: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects the European Geo-Stationary Navigation Overlay System to be fully operational.

Dr. Ladyman [holding answer 11 June 2007]: The European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) is a joint project of the European Space Agency (ESA), the European Commission and Eurocontrol, the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation. ESA has overall responsibility for the design and development of the EGNOS system.

The integration of EGNOS into the Galileo programme was decided by Transport Council in its conclusions of June 2003. The failure of the current concession negotiations for Galileo has also affected the EGNOS augmentation programme since the concessionaire was to provide the long-term management and funding structure necessary for the certification of EGNOS.

At 8 June Transport Council, Ministers agreed a Council resolution which invited the Commission to continue with the implementation of a certifiable EGNOS with initial service availability by 2008. This is to be distinguished from a service agreed for aviation use. There is not yet a timetable for certification of EGNOS for aviation use because it will first be necessary to identify clearly the funding and management structure that will guarantee an operational system in the long-term. These guarantees are dependent on the decisions to be taken in the autumn on the future of the European GNSS Programme.


Galileo Project, House of Commons, Written Answers, 20 Jun 2007, Column 1799W

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many meetings (a) Ministers and (b) officials in his Department have attended to discuss the Galileo project since its inception; which Ministers attended; on what dates the meetings were held; what the grade was of the civil servants attending meetings to discuss the Galileo project alone and jointly with Ministers; and if he will place in the Library a paper on the proposed future financing, governance and exploitation of Galileo. [141021]

Dr. Ladyman: Ministers have attended all transport councils since 1999, when it was agreed at the Cologne European Council that Galileo 'should be given careful scrutiny'.

Departmental officials have attended all meetings of the Galileo Joint Undertaking (GJU) Supervisory Board, since November 2002, and all meetings of the European GNSS Supervisory Authority (GSA), since January 2005. Departmental officials usually attend council working groups where Galileo is discussed, in support of the UK representation. Transport officials have been involved with the meetings of the ESA programme board that deals with EGNOS and Galileo

20 Jun 2007 : Column 1800W

since its inception in July 1999 and have attended many of them. The British National Space Centre takes the lead on ESA.

Information could be provided at disproportionate cost only on the dates of all the meetings that Transport Ministers and officials have held or attended on Galileo, within the Department, with Government colleagues, or with the GJU, GSA, Commission, ESA, and EU or ESA member states. The grade of the civil servants attending meetings has varied as appropriate. Senior officials, including the permanent secretary, have been involved.

An explanatory memorandum on the Commission's Communication of 16 May 2007 has been submitted to the European Scrutiny Select Committees. The Communication is available at:

http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/energy_transport/galileo/doc/com Galileo en_final_16mav2007.pdf


Galileo Project, House of Commons, Written Answers, 3 July 2007, Column 955W

Mr. Arbuthnot: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether a representative of his Department has attended meetings on the Galileo project in the last six months; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Department for Transport (DFT) is the lead Government Department for Galileo. MOD policy officials, along with officials from other Government Departments, provide DFT advice on wider issues.

In addition, the British National Space Centre (BNSC) has contracted satellite navigation experts from the Defence Scientific and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), an MOD executive agency, to provide technical support to the UK's involvement in the EU's Galileo civil satellite navigation programme.

They have regularly attended meetings on Galileo since the earliest days of the programme.


Galileo Project, House of Commons, Written Answers, 16 July 2007, Column 24W

Mr. Arbuthnot: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 3 July 2007, Official Report, column 955W, on Galileo project, what the wider issues in relation to Galileo are on which his Department provides advice to the Department of Transport.

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The MOD provides the Department for Transport with policy advice on the security aspects of Galileo, including system security and security implications of the programme. Along with other Government Departments the MOD also provides advice on EU institutional issues. In addition, drawing on its experience of large procurement projects, the MOD can offer advice on project management, governance, PPP funding and risk management issues.


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Nuclear Non-Proliferation

Nuclear Weapons: Proliferation, House of Commons, Written Answers, 21 June 2007, Column 2211W

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps are being taken to widen international participation in the Proliferation Security Initiative; and if she will make a statement.

Margaret Beckett: The UK has been actively involved in outreach activities for the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), which now includes over 80 countries. We continue to use suitable bilateral or multilateral lobbying opportunities to encourage other countries to endorse the PSI Statement of Interdiction Principles. For example, last year a UK Government team made a useful PSI outreach visit to Vietnam and in March, UK officials were involved in an Asia-Pacific PSI Outreach Forum organised in New Zealand.


Weapons: Finance, House of Commons, Written Answers, 21 June 2007, Column 2215

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when the Financial Action Task Force is expected to complete its examination of the risks involved in weapons of mass destruction proliferation finance and to review its mandate, as called for by the G7 Finance Ministers in Essen in February 2007; and if she will make a statement.

Ed Balls: I have been asked to reply.

The Financial Action Task Force is due to complete a review of its mandate by the end of June 2008. Its examination of the risks involved in weapons of mass destruction proliferation finance is in progress. There is no formal deadline for completing this work.


Non-proliferation Treaty Review, House of Commons, Written Answers, 3 July 2007, Column 997W

Mr. Flello: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking in preparation for the non-proliferation treaty review conference in 2010.

Dr. Howells: On 25 June, my right hon. Friend the then Foreign Secretary (Margaret Beckett) set out how we intended to work towards the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference in 2010.

She called for a reinvigorated commitment to a world free from nuclear weapons and recognised the pressure on the nuclear Non-Proliferation regime, particularly from Iran and North Korea. She made clear that we are committed to strengthen all aspects of the Nuclear NPT.


Convention on Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, House of Commons, Written Answers, 16 July 2007, Column 29W

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when the United Nations convention on suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism entered into force; when the United Kingdom (a) signed and (b) ratified the convention; what responsibilities signatory states have to report on implementation of the convention in (i) member states and (ii) their overseas territories; and what steps the Government are taking to encourage non-signatory states to sign.

Dr. Howells: The International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism entered into force on 7 July. The UK signed the Convention on 14 September 2005. The legislation required to implement the Convention is now in place in the UK, and the Government are currently preparing the necessary documents to be laid before Parliament prior to ratification. The Convention imposes an obligation on States Parties to report to the UN Secretary-General the final outcome of criminal proceedings undertaken in respect of the offences set out in the Convention. States Parties will also be expected to report to the committees of the UN Security Council that monitor implementation of States' counter-terrorism and non-proliferation obligations, on the implementation of their obligations under the Convention in a more general sense. While the Overseas Territories will not be included at the time of the UK's ratification, there remains the possibility of extending the Convention to the Overseas Territories following consultation with them and the passing of any necessary legislation in each Territory. With our international partners, the UK has strongly encouraged all States to sign and ratify the Convention. Most recently, in a joint statement on counter-terrorism issued at the Heiligendamm Summit on 8 June, the leaders of the G8 called on all States to ratify the Convention.


Arms Control, House of Commons, Written Answers, 17 July 2007, Column 194W

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what role his Department plays in delivering the objectives of the G8 global partnership.

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: I refer my hon. Friend to the Global Partnership, UK Fourth Annual Report 2006, copies of which are available in the Library of the House.


Nuclear Disarmament, House of Commons, Written Answers, 18 July 2007, Column 409W

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs by what means he plans to take forward the proposals announced by his predecessor to the Carnegie International conference on 25 June of creating a disarmament laboratory to support a verification of the dismantlement of nuclear warheads and delivery vehicles.

Dr. Howells: My right hon. Friend the former Foreign Secretary (Margaret Beckett) announced that the UK would act as a "disarmament laboratory" for the thinking and practical work required to move forward global nuclear disarmament.

As the speech made clear, we are supporting an independent International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) in-depth study to help determine the requirements for the eventual elimination of all nuclear weapons. In particular, we are working with IISS on holding a workshop to focus on some of the crucial technical questions in this area.

We have also tasked the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston with some detailed work on key stages in the verification of the reduction and elimination of nuclear weapons. This work is beginning and will produce results over the next few years.


Foreign Postgraduate Students (Counter-Proliferation Screening), House of Commons, Written Answers, 19 July 2007, Column 33WS

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (David Miliband): The Voluntary Vetting Scheme (VVS) is an arrangement designed to prevent states of proliferation concern using the UK as a training ground for their scientists and engineers. It is administered by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and seeks co-operation from universities in identifying postgraduate applicants of proliferation concern. The

19 July 2007 : Column 34WS

Government asses the proliferation risk and inform the university, which then decides whether or not to offer a place to the applicant.

As the proliferation threat has evolved, we have looked again at whether there is room to improve the scheme. In particular, and as recommended by the Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC), we have looked at the scope to make it compulsory, so that we catch a greater proportion of students of potential concern. We have also looked to shift the emphasis from universities to Government, where both feel it properly belongs.

Proposed Changes

In essence, the student section of the Immigration Rules contains a requirement for certain postgraduate students to have prior counter-proliferation clearance in order to qualify for a visa. The proposed new scheme-the Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)-requires all non-EEA students in the designated categories to apply for Counter-Proliferation (CP) clearance. Details of the disciplines affected by these provisions will appear in the 'Rules'. There is also a requirement to obtain CP clearance when students wish to extend their stay in the UK (for example, when moving from undergraduate studies to a postgraduate programme that is covered by the provisions of the new scheme). Clearance (in the form of a certificate) will be obtained through the FCO, using an easy-to-use, online form, and we aim to process the vast majority of applications within 10 working days. A separate clearance certificate will be required for each separate institution or programme of study.

We estimate that the ATAS will substantially increase the proportion of students of potential concern who are subject to scrutiny. At the same time, we would tighten the scheme considerably by assessing predominantly PhD and Masters by research students, rather than all postgraduate students of potential concern, as was the case under the VVS. However, we would still wish to assess the small number of students wishing to undertake taught Masters studies in Physics, Mechanical Engineering, Aerospace Engineering or Materials Technology, due to potential CP concerns. This allows us to target the areas of greatest concern more efficiently and in a manner proportionate to the threat. It is in line with the Government's publicly stated CP policy, and is a useful reaffirmation of our commitment. The academic community has also been extensively consulted and is supportive of the new scheme.


We anticipate implementing a voluntary go-live date for the scheme on Monday 3 September 2007. From this date onwards we will be seeking volunteers from Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to advise their students to apply for ATAS clearance. However it will not be a mandatory requirement under the Immigration Rules at this point and we will continue operating the VVS during this transition period. Assuming no problems are found we would have a mandatory go-live date of 1 November 2007 with a corresponding amendment to the Immigration Rules. This date has been decided after consultation with the UK academic community and allows them to deal with their busiest time for new arrivals, that is; September and October, without having to produce amended offer letters to meet the ATAS requirements.


Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Westminster Hall, Adjournment Debate, 24 July 2007, Column 181WH

24 July 2007 : Column 181WH

Westminster Hall

Tuesday 24 July 2007

[Miss Anne Begg in the Chair]

Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the sitting be now adjourned.-[Mr. Frank Roy .]

9.30 am

Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North) (Lab): I welcome the opportunity to have this debate and hope that at the end of it the Government will give some good news on their future strategy towards non-proliferation. I congratulate the Minister on her appointment and welcome her to the debate.

On 14 March, the House voted on the Trident issue after a long debate. An unprecedented number of Labour Members voted against a renewal of the Trident nuclear submarine system. That reflected public opinion and the views of the large number of people who contacted MPs about the issue. Nuclear arms and proliferation is not a dead issue; it is very much a live one. I want to tease out the Government's view on the non-proliferation treaty system and what their strategy is leading up to the next five-yearly review in 2010.

It is worth setting out some of the background to the non-proliferation treaty. It was envisaged in 1968 and was promoted by Ireland, among a number of other non-aligned countries, many of which had completely neutral foreign policies. I shall quote from the original documentation. The five declared nuclear weapon states, which were the United States, the Soviet Union, France, China and the United Kingdom, all eventually signed the treaty and agreed that nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices could

"not in any way assist, encourage, or induce any non-nuclear-weapon State to...acquire nuclear weapons".

They agreed not to receive, manufacture or acquire nuclear weapons or to seek to receive any assistance in the manufacture of nuclear weapons. Some important statements were made and considering the treaty was signed in 1968 at the height of the cold war, it was a seminal document that countries had courage to sign up to.

The second pillar of the non-proliferation treaty was disarmament. The five declared nuclear weapon states were committed to a process of long-term disarmament. That is the heart of the issue: the five declared nuclear weapon states agreed that they would not provide the technology to enable the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and the other countries who signed and who were not nuclear powers agreed not to adopt nuclear weapons in any way.

The third pillar of the treaty was the peaceful use of nuclear energy. I am completely opposed to nuclear power because it is dangerous and dangerously polluting, but it is not illegal under the terms of the NPT for a country to develop its own nuclear power industry. That is one of the issues that is at the heart of the current debate concerning relations with Iran.

24 July 2007 : Column 182WH

Mr. David Drew (Stroud) (Lab/Co-op): My hon. Friend and I have slightly different views on nuclear power, but not on nuclear weapons. It has effectively been proposed that there should be multilateral control of Iran's ability to reprocess material for use in its nuclear industry. If that can apply to Iran, why cannot it apply to every other country, so that we develop the ability of individual countries to use materials, which could be used against the betterment of man, more positively?

Jeremy Corbyn: Indeed. Negotiations with Iran are based on Iran's wish to develop its own nuclear power industry and on whether that is a precursor to developing nuclear weapons. Clearly, nuclear power and nuclear weapons are inextricably linked; it is impossible to have nuclear weapons without nuclear reactors and a nuclear power industry, but it does not follow that by having a nuclear power industry and nuclear power reactors we get nuclear weapons. I disagree with my hon. Friend on very few things, but we do disagree on that particular subject. However, I am sure that we completely agree on the issue of nuclear weapons, which is important.

I shall set out what has happened since the NPT was signed. It grew from quite small beginnings, but there is now an impressive list of countries who have signed the non-proliferation treaty. It almost reads-I stress almost-like a list of members of the UN. The list is formidable in every conceivable way and we should be proud and supportive of that. Over the years since the original NPT was signed, countries that have tried to develop nuclear weapons have subsequently renounced the use of nuclear weapons completely. I am thinking, for example, of South Africa, which under the apartheid regime and possibly with the assistance of Israel, tried to develop a nuclear weapons system. There are uncorroborated reports that South Africa may have tried to test such weapons and it was certainly attempting to develop a weapons system. It is to the eternal credit of the African National Congress Government and former President Nelson Mandela that South Africa completely renounced the development, use and consideration of nuclear weapons in any way. We should remember that as one of Nelson Mandela's great contributions during his time as President. Argentina and Brazil also decided that they would not pursue any nuclear weapons options and a number of the former Soviet republics, particularly Ukraine, have done likewise. That has encouraged the development of nuclear-free zones around the world, particularly in Latin America. There is also an African nuclear-free zone and a developing central Asian nuclear-free zone.

Some countries have developed nuclear weapons and they are either not signatories to the NPT, have renounced the NPT, or never sought to sign the NPT in the first place. One such country is Israel, which it is reported has around 200 nuclear warheads. The reason that we know about Israel's nuclear weapons programme is that Mordechai Vanunu bravely told the world about it, after which he was spirited out of Britain into Italy. After the revelations that he made to The Sunday Times, he was taken from Italy to Israel where he was tried at a military court. He then spent 18 years in prison as a result, 13 of which were in solitary confinement. When he was finally released from prison, he was put under restrictive powers by the Israeli courts and has now been sentenced to a further period of imprisonment for

24 July 2007 : Column 183WH

talking to foreign nationals while living utterly peacefully in Jerusalem. Indeed, I am one of the people whom he has met since he came out of prison. I hope that the Minister will indicate whether the Government continue to think that Mordechai Vanunu should be given complete freedom to travel and to lead a normal life.

Miss Anne Begg (in the Chair): Order. We may have to suspend the sitting because there is a problem with the sound. I am now informed that the sound is back on.

Jeremy Corbyn: It would indeed be a shocking business if there were an attempt to silence a debate on nuclear weapons.

Dr. Ian Gibson (Norwich, North) (Lab): It's not MI5 is it?

Jeremy Corbyn: My hon. Friend tempts me down the road of conspiracy theories.

Tragically, India and Pakistan have both developed nuclear weapons. Both have a delivery system and a testing capability and the nuclear stand-off between India and Pakistan in 2002 was one of the most serious threats to world peace since nuclear weapons were developed. I hope that India and Pakistan will eventually sign the non-proliferation treaty and undertake mutual nuclear disarmament because their weapons are designed as much to attack each other as anyone else. Obviously, I hope that that happens, but I must say that the existence of nuclear weapons in India and Pakistan is encouraged in part by the rewarding of nuclear technology to India by the United States, after President Bush's recent visit. If we are serious about the non-proliferation treaty, countries that develop nuclear weapons should not be rewarded for doing so, but should be put under the utmost pressure to undertake nuclear disarmament.

Allegedly, North Korea has also developed nuclear weapons, around which there has been a great deal of publicity. Nuclear weapons were an aim of the North Korean regime, which has carried out a nuclear test, although there are doubts about whether it was a fully-fledged nuclear weapon. Clearly, however, North Korea had an aim and a wish to develop nuclear weapons, which is quite bizarre for a country racked by such poverty, economic difficulties and isolation. It must also be said, however, that the talks with North Korea undertaken very patiently by the six-party group have had a very interesting effect. Only last week, we saw the first delivery of fuel oil shipments to North Korea, in return for which it deactivated part of its nuclear development programme. North Korea is to be congratulated on that, and the rest of the world should use this opportunity to develop engagement rather than hostilities with North Korea, in order to encourage it down the path of disarmament. Surely, that would be a good way forward.

Lastly, I want to mention Iran, which, I suspect, will dominate much of the debate. Obviously, Iran is an oil-rich country and, at the moment, wishes to develop a nuclear power industry so that it has energy supplies for the future. That is its stated aim. I do not agree with nuclear power, but Iran is legally entitled to develop it.

24 July 2007 : Column 184WH

It is a signatory of the non-proliferation treaty and is now judged to be in breach of a supplementary protocol, which allows instant inspections of its facilities. As a result, sanctions have been applied and Iran is becoming increasingly isolated throughout the world. The rather bellicose language used particularly by the United States towards Iran is unfortunate and dangerous for the region as a whole.

Dr. Gibson: I share my hon. Friend's abhorrence of nuclear weaponry and have no time for nuclear power, which, as he said, Iran is in the process of developing. Is it not incongruous that, under the aegis of the United States, the International Atomic Energy Agency has withdrawn from Iran technical co-operation on 55 fronts, which means that it has to turn to other countries for high-class technology and expertise, which might not be up to the standards that we are used to in the west? For example, if those involved in Chernobyl were to advise Iran, would we not have fears about their knowledge not being quite up to the mark? Someone once said of the control room at Chernobyl that it looked like someone had thrown dials into a bag and tossed it against a wall.

Jeremy Corbyn: My hon. Friend is far more of an expert on this subject than I am, and there is a great deal of merit in what he says. If a country develops nuclear power, but there is an accident or disaster, we all suffer. Nuclear fallout does not respect national boundaries. I can think back to debates in this House after the Chernobyl disaster, when a lot of people happily sat back and said, "Well, it is all the fault of Soviet technology". The reality was that thousands of people were terminally affected by the fallout-not only those around the plant, but in Scandinavia and, indeed, this country, despite the fact that we are a very great distance from Chernobyl. That is the reality of a nuclear power system failure.

Therefore, if Iran is denied high-quality nuclear technology, and resorts to that which has far less certainty and safety, we are all at risk, not least the Iranian people and those in neighbouring countries. I urge the Minister, in her response, to tell us that the attitude taken-

Miss Anne Begg (in the Chair): Order. We have had a request from the sound person: the position where the hon. Gentleman is standing is creating a problem, so will he move to the next microphone? That should solve the problem.

Jeremy Corbyn: To the left or the right?

Miss Anne Begg (in the Chair): I leave that entirely up to the hon. Gentleman.

Jeremy Corbyn: I can assure the audience that this is a tactical move to the right only.

When the Minister replies, I hope that she will help us on the question of relations with Iran. During the hostage crisis earlier this year, I was quite relieved that the bellicose language used against Iran up until that point was toned down a great deal. In the end, diplomacy triumphed and there was no military stand-off. Surely, that must be the way forward, and I hope that she will tell us that the Government intend to engage with Iran,

24 July 2007 : Column 185WH

rather than continually attack and criticise it. I accept that there is much to criticise in Iran concerning human rights and political rights and developments, and it is correct that those criticisms be made, but to start a quasi-military or, ultimately, military conflict would be disastrous for the whole region, particularly given the horrors in neighbouring Iraq.

Bob Spink (Castle Point) (Con): The hon. Gentleman has secured a very important debate at a key time in our history. Actually, it is a historic debate on a very important question. Does he think that the question of Iran, and of the middle east generally, shows that the British Government and the Americans do not understand the political dynamics in those areas? Is he aware of comments made by the Iranian envoy to the IAEA, Mr. Ali Asghar Soltanieh? He said:

"Britain does not have the right to question others when they're not complying with their obligations"-

under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. Does that not pose an important question?

Jeremy Corbyn: Indeed. I shall return to the NPT system in a few moments, but yes, that is an important point: we should abide by the NPT, if we expect others to do the same. The other point that the hon. Gentleman made concerning internal politics in Iran is an important one as well. We hear some incredibly simplistic reports of what goes on in Iran, and everything that the President says and the language that he uses is taken as the gospel according to the whole country. It simply is not like that. There are different power centres in Iran; the political President is one, but there are many others. We should try and understand a little bit more about the country. I commend to anyone interested in Iran Rageh Omaar's films on the BBC about life and attitudes in Iran. It is a huge, proud and important country resting on the Persian tradition, and the simplistic remarks about and attacks made on it do no good at all; in fact, they do a great deal of harm. We should have some respect for the history and position of that country.

The purpose of this debate is to tease out the Government's position on the development of a peaceful nuclear process. The Government are quite keen, apparently, on developing nuclear power stations. I am not! But in a sense that is a separate debate from the one surrounding nuclear weapons. However, the assertion that we have an independent nuclear deterrent has been questioned by many of us for many years, both in this House and in the wider peace movement in this country. I do not believe that we have an independent nuclear deterrent, but that it relies entirely on technology and information from the United States to be fired or used. In reality, we are a subdivision of the US when it comes to nuclear weapons. However, that does not stop us spending vast amounts of money on our existing nuclear weapons, the development of the Aldermaston facilities and the putative replacement of the Trident system, which could cost as much as £70 billion. That was one of the big issues-it was not the only one-in the debate on 14 March.

I hope that the Government will recognise that if we are serious about our signing of the NPT all those years ago, committing us to long-term nuclear disarmament, as well as committing all those declared non-nuclear-weapon states to not developing such weapons, it is up to us to

24 July 2007 : Column 186WH

use this historic opportunity to say that we will go no further with the Trident project and that instead we will accept the terms of the NPT.

I had the good fortune, because I am one of the national vice-chairs of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, to attend the NPT PrepCom-the preparatory committee meeting-in Vienna in April and early May this year, and I did so with great interest. I spoke at length with my hon. Friend the Member for Hemsworth (Jon Trickett) at a seminar that was conducted in parallel to the conference and I listened very carefully to the statements made by the Russian delegation, the United States delegation, many other delegations, the European Union and the British representative who spoke at the same session.

Let me quote from the statement made by Ambassador John Duncan, the head of the UK delegation to the first preparatory committee. He said:

"Mr. Chairman, you will be aware that at the end of last year we published a White Paper explaining the reasoning behind the UK government's decision to maintain a nuclear deterrent."

He went on to explain that the UK Parliament voted to support that decision. He said:

"Firstly, I should make clear what we have decided. The UK has decided to begin the concept and design work required to make possible a replacement for our current ballistic missile submarine fleet; and to maintain the option of using the D5 missile beyond its current life expectancy.
This does not mean that we have taken an irreversible decision that commits us irrevocably to possessing nuclear weapons in 40 or 50 years' time. Indeed, our White Paper is clear that the UK remains committed to the goal of a world free from nuclear weapons."

The next part was, to me, the most interesting. Ambassador Duncan said:

"Mr Chairman, some suggest that it is hypocritical for the UK to maintain its nuclear weapons while calling on others to desist from their development. Let me make clear that the UK does not belong to an opposite camp that insists on 'non-proliferation first.' The UK fully accepts the proposition that progress must be made on the disarmament and non-proliferation tracks in parallel. The UK White Paper on the nuclear deterrent makes clear our continuing commitment to meet our disarmament obligations under Article VI of the NPT."

The interesting thing was that nobody, at that stage, had accused Britain or anybody else of being hypocritical; it was the ambassador who brought up the question of hypocrisy, which was somewhat surprising to us. He then fairly pointed out that Britain had reduced its number of nuclear warheads considerably.

I was interested in Ambassador Duncan's statement and I was obviously pleased that he was at the committee and able to make the statement, but if he or, indeed, the delegation recognises that we are likely to be charged with hypocrisy, let us lance the boil and not go there. Let us say that we fully support all the principles of the NPT, which includes us not developing nuclear weapons or continuing with the replacement of Trident.

As I understand it, the 14 March vote was a vote in principle; it did not commit us to expenditure. I would be grateful if the Minister, when she replies to the debate, could explain exactly how much money has been spent on the development of a possible replacement for Trident and what is being invested now at Aldermaston in the development of further nuclear-bomb-making facilities.

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Dr. Gibson: I do not know whether my hon. Friend was lucky enough to hear the speech by the previous Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Margaret Beckett), at the Carnegie foundation in Washington, in which, again, it was pointed out that nothing was for ever in terms of British foreign policy, warheads and so on, and that we are now moving to a state in which, independently, there is consideration of how far we can go and the fact that the deterrent effect may be different in different countries. So there was a chink of light from the previous Foreign Secretary, too. I just have this wonderful feeling that something is opening up and I am sorry that she lost her job.

Jeremy Corbyn: I have always known my hon. Friend to be a brilliant man, but he has read my mind on this occasion.

Mr. Drew: Or even the script.

Jeremy Corbyn: Not the script because there is no script-I cannot do scripts. I was indeed about to refer to the speech by the former Foreign Secretary, my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Margaret Beckett), to the Carnegie international non-proliferation conference on 25 June. In my view, it is a very interesting, very seminal speech and extremely well put. I shall quote a couple of extracts from it, because I think it important that the House understands what she said.

My right hon. Friend talked about the possibilities of long-term nuclear disarmament and quoted Kofi Annan. She went on to say that "there are some very specific triggers for action-key impending decisions-that we are fast approaching."

She drew attention to the fact that START-the strategic arms reduction treaty-expires in 2009; there is not long to go. She said:

"We will need to start thinking about how we move from a bilateral disarmament framework built by the US and Russia to one more suited to our multi-polar world".

That was an interesting use of language. She went on to say:

"And then in 2010 we will have the NPT Review Conference. By the time that is held, we need the international community to be foursquare and united behind the global non-proliferation regime. We can't afford for that conference to be a fractured or fractious one: rather we must strengthen the NPT in all its aspects."

Towards the end of the speech, my right hon. Friend said:

"What we need is both vision-a scenario for a world free of nuclear weapons. And action-progressive steps to reduce warhead numbers and to limit the role of nuclear weapons in security policy. These two strands are separate but they are mutually reinforcing. Both are necessary, both at the moment too weak."

In the historical context, my right hon. Friend drew a parallel with people who have stood against impossible odds and achieved something. She cited the example of those who campaigned for the end of the slave trade and quoted William Wilberforce. She cited those who sought the millennium development goals to make poverty history in our society and in our world. Her words at that conference were prescient and important.

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Nuclear weapons were used once in anger-in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. They were mere fireworks compared with the weapons that are now available in the world. Every year on 6 August, Hiroshima day, we have commemorations around the world-I always attend the one in Tavistock square in London-and every year we have aged Japanese guests who come along, who are dying of cancers, as others are dying of cancers, as a result of weapons used more than 60 years ago that are mere fireworks compared with what is now available. Those people are living the legacy of the only use of nuclear weapons. Hiroshima and Nagasaki have dedicated themselves as cities of peace. We should pay tribute to Mayor Ito of Nagasaki, who was tragically murdered earlier this year. He campaigned for peace on behalf of his city.

We came very near to nuclear war in 1962 in the Cuban missile crisis. We came very near to nuclear war between India and Pakistan in 2002. Is it really conscionable that in the 21st century, with all the problems of poverty, hunger, malnutrition, the AIDS pandemic and the lack of sanitation around the world, we should be thinking of spending billions of pounds on developing weapons of mass destruction? Why do we not accept in its totality the NPT that came into force in 1970, the reasons that we signed it and what it commits us to? Why do we not say that our intention, our purpose, is to bring about long-term nuclear disarmament and start by setting an example by saying that this country will not proceed any further with the development of a new generation of nuclear weapons? We could use that to encourage others.

The six-party talks have shown, in the case of North Korea, that it is possible to make progress. There are many people in this Room who would recognise that it is quite possible and, indeed, probable that progress will be made with Iran. If, however, we decide to go ahead with the new generation of nuclear weapons and the US, Russia, France and China do the same, who on earth are we to go to the NPT review conference in 2010 and proceed to lecture people in the rest of the world about why they should not develop nuclear weapons?

This, essentially, is a moral quest with a moral purpose. Millions out there would like to see a better world, as do many in here, and we do not believe that nuclear weapons bring about peace, justice or security. Instead, they bring about danger, the possibility of proliferation and, by their very manufacture and existence, the danger of pollution. The NPT was a seminal treaty, which was promoted by countries that did not have nuclear weapons, did not want them and did not want anybody else to have them. Although the PrepCom meeting in Vienna eventually concluded with a degree of harmony and good purpose, there is no guarantee that the review conference in 2010 will achieve the same, unless the UK, as one of the five declared nuclear weapon states, does all that it can to develop the process of nuclear disarmament. That is why I called for this debate, and I look forward to the contributions of others and to the Minister's reply. This is an issue for our time; it is one that will allow us to make a real contribution and bring about a more peaceful world.

10 am

Bob Spink (Castle Point) (Con): In politics, timing is everything, so why on earth would Britain broadcast the message this year that it is time to ramp up the

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nuclear weapons race? The Government have shown to our cost that, as I said earlier, they simply do not understand the dynamics of politics in the middle east and North Korea or the evolving terrorist threats. The awesome destructive power of nuclear weapons makes any decision that the Government take a historic one for this country and the world. We have the opportunity to set an example-good or bad-but I am afraid that Parliament has not truly debated or consulted on that decision in the wide manner that its importance demands.

Britain had a unique opportunity, as the bishops' conference put it, to jump start

"an approach to security and legitimate self-defence without the unconscionable threat of nuclear destruction"


"give a new impetus to the wider process towards total nuclear disarmament."

The question is whether we should trust the Prime Minister or have a proper, full debate on such a historic decision, rather than just pushing it through, with the Whips driving MPs through the voting Lobbies. All MPs worth their vote want eventual nuclear disarmament, which is our legal responsibility under the NPT. We signed up to that and we should follow through or explain why we will not. The answer to the question whether we should have a proper debate is, of course, a no-brainer, but MPs on both sides of the House were railroaded when the issue was discussed this spring.

Of course, the Government have a grave duty to maintain security, but the burning question is whether their, and indeed the Opposition's, strident push for even more destructive nuclear weapons platforms and capabilities would provide that security or facilitate less stable countries-some with desperate and dangerous leaders-in taking up the nuclear option. Do such weapons defend us against the evolving, asymmetric threats of terrorism? Mutually assured destruction-MAD-simply does not work as a deterrent against terrorist threats; we can ask any suicide bomber that and we will get a very clear answer.

We have seen a litany of disastrous weapons and major systems procurement decisions in the past decade, and overstretch in the conventional forces is certainly no illusion. Some MPs could therefore be forgiven for thinking that spending money on proven conventional forces would be a lot more effective way of creating a safer world and a safer Britain. The point, however, is that society needs to have a comprehensive debate, and it has not yet had one. Tony Blair said that the cost was about £20 billion over the relevant period, so pundits watching the issue would not be surprised if the cost escalated to £40 billion, given what we all know about cost estimates for major weapons, platforms and systems.

As I said, we could spend some of that money on conventional arms. We could also spend it on tackling climate change to help save the planet from certain and serious damage. Equally, we could spend it on international development to remove some of the inequalities around the world, which drive terrorism in the first place. Trident also raises key domestic questions, and there are serious domestic calls on the money involved-the health service, education and tackling law and order spring readily to mind.

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MPs really can make a difference; we all know that, which is why we come here. However, we need the courage to put our country first, to put people before politics and occasionally to ignore the party Whips and do what we think is right so that we can force the Government to make good decisions, particularly when the matter is so historically important. I made a mistake believing and following the Government on Iraq, but I will not make that mistake so easily again.

Let me make it clear, however, that I am not advocating nuclear disarmament now, unlike the hon. Member for Islington, North (Jeremy Corbyn), who made an excellent speech. I am not a disarmer by nature and I believe in strong defences. I am arguing that now is not the right time to make a decision; in fact, it is totally the wrong time. A decision is not necessary technically and the systems can be extended beyond 2020, when, if we want to look at a nuclear option for the future, there will be new, cheaper and more effective technologies that can be better targeted. There are also better ways to spend the money right now. We as MPs can send a historic message to the rest of the world and really make a difference if we have the courage to do what is right.

10.7 am

Mr. Dai Davies (Blaenau Gwent) (Ind): I congratulate the hon. Member for Islington, North (Jeremy Corbyn) not only on his speech but on the campaign that he has supported for many years to keep Trident and nuclear weapons on the political agenda.

My constituency boasts Michael Foot and Llew Smith as my predecessors, and they were unilateralists, who campaigned for unilateral nuclear disarmament for many years. I was a multilateralist until relatively recently, but what changed my mind primarily-other than the campaigns by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament-was the reduction of nuclear weapons across the world, including in Britain, Russia and America, as well as the existence of parts of the world without nuclear weapons. Now seems to be the time to take the next step.

The issue of a free vote has been mentioned. As an independent MP, I believe that the most important point is that all hon. Members must go out into their constituencies and listen to their constituents. Then, I would urge the Government to bring the issue back to Parliament and to give Parliament a free vote.

Many things have been said about Trident, nuclear power and nuclear weapons in the past months, including during election campaigns for deputy party leaders. Many Ministers have indicated that there should perhaps be a rethink, and they should be listened to. The most important thing is that we lead as a country to show that there is another way. We must use the disarming of Trident as a negotiating point with countries such as Iran to persuade them that disarmament is the right thing to do.

The Government held a debate that took a matter of hours, but this issue needs debating over a long time. CND has said that the move to renew does not have to be taken for six, seven, 10 and maybe 15 years, so let us have a debate. Let us not fail to talk about this issue for the sake of a matter of months.

The safeguard that nuclear weapons give is a false one. I have written many questions to Ministers asking under what conditions this country would use nuclear

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weapons, and only two answers have come back. The first is, "It is only a deterrent," but if that is the case, what is the point? The second is, "We'd only use it as a retaliatory measure." I am sorry, but it gives my constituents no pleasure to think that if 300,000 people were killed by a nuclear strike in this country we would feel better if we killed another 300,000 in another country. That, to me, is no reason for using nuclear weapons.

A point has been made about cost. Estimates from £20 billion to £100 billion have been made-unimaginable, unreachable sums of money. We talk about postcode lotteries for health service care, including cancer treatments. At the moment flood defences, which are in the news at the moment, are among the things that the money could be much better spent on. I urge the Minister and the Government, and all hon. Members, to push for the Trident debate to come back to Parliament at the earliest opportunity, and to make sure that there is a free vote so that our consciences can lead the way.

10.10 am

Richard Younger-Ross (Teignbridge) (LD): I congratulate the hon. Member for Islington, North (Jeremy Corbyn) on bringing the issue back to the House for debate, and particularly on the questions that he has posed for the Minister to answer. I hope that the Minister, whom I congratulate on her new post, will take up and answer some of the questions that have been put. We appreciate that perhaps subtle but important changes have occurred in the Government in the past few weeks; perhaps we shall receive answers to some of the questions that were not answered in the previous debate in the House.

A question that Members of Parliament are often asked is why they got involved in politics. Two issues in particular provoked me as a young child. One was the famine of 1962 or 1963 in India, and the second was the Cuban missiles crisis. In one case I could not understand how we in the west could be so rich and not help; in the second I could not understand how we in the west could be so mad that our system of defence was, as mentioned earlier, based on the principle of mutually assured destruction. I began to question at an early age the purpose of and need for nuclear weapons. It struck me that there was no moral argument for them. They were just a reaction-a fearful reaction-to the other side.

The politics that brought about the nuclear arsenals that were built up in the 1950s and 1960s has changed. However, the thinking of some of today's politicians does not appear to have moved on. I think in particular of one Conservative defence spokesman whose argument for maintaining the nuclear deterrent seemed to be that in the early 1980s it was good for hitting the left with, and was popular with voters; it was a policy that should be continued because he was convinced of its popularity with voters. That is virtually verbatim what he said-but I hasten to add that it was not the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Lidington), who will probably give us a slightly modified view. It struck me as a rather bizarre argument. Part of the difficulty is that many of the arguments for maintaining nuclear weapons are bizarre.

In relation to the current debate, Gorbachev said:

"A responsible course of action for the Government would be to postpone the decision on the future of the UK nuclear arsenal at least until the next review conference of the NPT in 2010".

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That is an argument that we agree with. If hon. Members do not agree with or want to believe that source, they can always listen to Kofi Annan, who said:

"No state should imagine that, by pushing ahead with a nuclear weapon programme, it can pose as a defender of the NPT; still less that it will persuade others to disarm".

That is the argument that the Liberal Democrats have put, and the hon. Member for Castle Point (Bob Spink) put a similar one. There is no need at this point for the House to have taken its decision to replace our nuclear deterrent.

The Liberal Democrats accept, in the current environment, that there is still the need for a minimum nuclear deterrent, but they also recognise what was particularly highlighted by the hon. Member for Islington, North-that we have legal obligations under the nuclear proliferation treaty to move forward to nuclear disarmament. Even the Government's own documents have cited the need for nuclear disarmament, although that seems to be contradicted by their actions and other statements.

I want to return to previous debates and some questions that were put to the former Prime Minister. In December he said that under article VI of the NPT

"we can maintain our independent nuclear deterrent. We are under an obligation, which we are fulfilling, to pursue multilateral negotiations, but there is no obligation on us to disarm unilaterally."-[Official Report, 4 December 2006; Vol. 454, c. 26.]

He also stated:

"The evidence is that the non-proliferation treaty works best in circumstances in which there is a multilateral mood for disarmament. That is the reason why we believe it is better to pursue such a course under the terms of that treaty."-[Official Report, 4 December 2006; Vol. 454, c. 35.]

He indicated that the deterrent is best achieved by co-operation with other states. Perhaps the Minister could explain how, in advance of 2010, the Government intend to promote effective and committed co-operation with their NPT partners.

In December the hon. Member for Ilford, South (Mike Gapes), who is the Chairman of the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs, asked the then Prime Minister to

"confirm that the Government remain committed to the goal of global nuclear disarmament and will make renewed efforts to secure international negotiations as called for under article VI of the non-proliferation treaty".-[Official Report, 4 December 2006; Vol. 454, c. 32.]

The Prime Minister refused to confirm that. He talked of unilateral disarmament, but not of the need to make renewed efforts on the international stage. Will the Minister advise us of the efforts that the present Government intend to make to promote the NPT, and what negotiations they will enter into with other countries, to bring that about?

We accept that there are difficulties over international peace; there are concerns about Iran's intentions and about North Korea and its intentions. However, we must ask what is the best way forward. Is it to say that we will go ahead willy-nilly with the replacement of the Trident system? Is it not better to be more thoughtful and send out a message that we believe that we still have the right to a minimum nuclear deterrent, but that we recognise that we have obligations under the NPT which require us to try to move forward with multilateral

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disarmament, and which we will honour by making a commitment to reduce our nuclear defence capacity by 50 per cent., with a view to obtaining further negotiations with the other relevant countries and creating a situation in which Iran can be engaged in a non-proliferation treaty and North Korea can feel assured that there is movement towards that? We could then move on to consider other countries that have developed nuclear weapons, and what can be done to reduce the absolute risk of a nuclear conflict.

We should not doubt that such a conflict is a possibility. In the conflict between Pakistan and India a year or so ago, both those countries came perilously close to a nuclear exchange. That would have been a disaster.

10.19 am

Mr. David Lidington (Aylesbury) (Con): I congratulate the hon. Member for Islington, North (Jeremy Corbyn) on securing the debate. He has long had an utterly consistent approach to these matters, and it will not surprise him that he and I disagree on one or two significant points. He has kept his CND badge polished and on public display even in recent years when it has become somewhat unfashionable among leading members of his party to advertise one's previous membership of that organisation. He is right out point to the importance of this topic.

The non-proliferation treaty represented a bargain in which the non-nuclear states agreed not to acquire nuclear weapons, and to put their civil nuclear programmes under international safeguards. The nuclear states agreed to take action to prevent proliferation, to pursue disarmament negotiations, under article VI, and to allow the easy dissemination of civil nuclear technology. Any assessment of the NPT has to take all sides of that bargain into account.

I do not agree with the hon. Member for Islington, North that the UK should give up its nuclear deterrent. Neither do I agree that there is a comfortable way out of taking the difficult decision whether to renew Trident by postponing it. The Minister will have chapter and verse, but my clear memory of our debate earlier this Session on the renewal of Trident is that all the expert advice from defence chiefs and others was that the lead-in time for the development of a renewed Trident system meant that the decision had to be taken this Parliament if we were to be in a position to renew the deterrent when the current Trident system is likely to become obsolete. For those reasons, I differ from both the Liberal Democrat spokesman, the hon. Member for Teignbridge (Richard Younger-Ross), and my hon. Friend the Member for Castle Point (Bob Spink).

It is a pity that earlier speakers did not mention that the UK has reduced its nuclear arsenal by 70 per cent. since the end of the cold war, or that we are the only one of the original five nuclear powers to have limited ourselves to a single delivery system. The US, Russia, China and France have maintained more than one such system.

Bob Spink: Does my hon. Friend acknowledge that we have not become less secure as a result of reducing our nuclear weaponry and launch systems? Does he not, therefore, see any illogicality in his argument? The Opposition have a debate in the main Chamber this

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afternoon on reducing global poverty; does he not think that some of the £20 billion that we are to spend on ramping up our nuclear systems would be better spent on reducing global poverty, as it is global poverty and inequality that are driving terrorist growth?

Mr. Lidington: The growth of terrorism derives from several factors. My hon. Friend might be right to attribute it, in part, to global poverty, and I do not seek to deny the importance of taking national and international action to address that. He knows that our right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition is in Africa this week, highlighting the importance of international development and our party's commitment to acting to improve the lot of people in the poorest countries. However, any responsible Government, and any party aspiring to government in this country, have to keep at the forefront of their mind their prime duty of looking after the security of the UK population, both nationally and internationally. I draw my hon. Friend's attention to the remarks of the Bishop of Rochester a few months ago, when he acknowledged that the

"cost of replacing or renewing Trident is often cited as a reason for not doing so."

He also acknowledged that that money could be spent on

"international development or environmental projects",

but concluded that

"the cost of Trident is very small compared to the UK's GDP and is a small price to pay for the security on which many other social goods depend."

Jeremy Corbyn: I hesitate to disagree with a bishop, but something has to be said here. Is not the argument that he has put, which the hon. Gentleman is also putting, one for every country in the world to develop nuclear weapons? Are we made more secure by having nuclear weapons? Is Sweden made more secure by not having them? Surely that is the question that has to be answered.

Mr. Lidington: The problem with the hon. Gentleman's case is that he sidesteps the fact that the NPT acknowledged that some states were in possession of nuclear weapons, and sought to create a framework under which those states could combat proliferation and work, over time-no deadline was specified in article VI-to reduce their nuclear arsenals and the threat of nuclear war. The treaty also acknowledged that other states did not possess nuclear weapons. All signatories undertook duties to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, but the treaty accepted the reality that they were possessed by existing nuclear states and sought to stabilise that position. I have heard no persuasive argument that the UK's unilateral disarmament would discourage nuclear proliferation by others. The NPT system has worked pretty well on the whole. In fairness, the hon. Member for Islington, North made some of these points in his speech. South Africa voluntarily gave up its potential nuclear capability, and the former Soviet republics of Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus gave up stocks of nuclear weapons that they had in their territories.

The Government need to mount vigorous diplomatic action regarding the weaknesses in the current non-proliferation regime. In today's world, we face new, and probably growing, dangers from nuclear proliferation,

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partly because access to nuclear technology is a lot easier now and partly because it has been around for about half a century and is more familiar to people and organisations than was the case even before the internet made it possible for complex, advanced technology to be transmitted from continent to continent at the click of a mouse. We have also seen the growth of a vigorous black market in nuclear technology in recent years. The Minister will know that A. Q. Khan's group in Pakistan is believed to have sold nuclear know-how to Iraq, North Korea and Libya. We have also seen, through the examples of Iran and Libya, that countries have been able to conceal nuclear programmes successfully not just for months or years, but for decades.

The Government should press for international action to strengthen the safeguards in the treaty against nuclear proliferation. For a start, countries will be less likely to conceal what they are doing if their programmes are likely to be detected, so we must beef up the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectorate.

There are only about 650 inspectors, whose job it is to police 900 or so nuclear facilities worldwide. By way of analogy, I should point out that Disney World employs more than 1,000 people on security duties for one site. The Government need to consider some serious questions. Is the number of inspectors large enough? Is the IAEA budget of $120 million a year adequate in the face of the growing threat of proliferation? If it is not, what action do they intend to take to bring together their international partners to strengthen the arm of the inspectors?

Secondly, as the hon. Member for Islington, North said, we need to have regard to the importance of the additional supplementary protocols to the NPT. I gather that, so far, only 69 countries have both signed up to such additional protocols and, crucially, brought them into force. The protocols give additional rights of inspection to the IAEA, and there is now a strong case for international agreement to try to make additional protocols the norm for all signatories to the NPT.

We do not have time today to go into the Iranian political and diplomatic situation in detail. As the hon. Gentleman said, it is clear that Iran is no longer implementing the supplementary protocol that it had agreed. The additional protocols do not give the inspectorate the authority to explore some serious matters such as high-explosives testing or the design of missile warheads. In cases such as that of Iran, we need to have a system of additional obligations approved by the Security Council that can be imposed on countries that renege on the supplementary protocols that they have previously agreed to implement.

The North Korean case exposed another possible loophole in the NPT. North Korea was able to build up its civil nuclear programme, give the required three months' notice of withdrawal from the NPT and then move rapidly towards a weapons programme because it had acquired the knowledge of all the sensitive parts of the nuclear fuel cycle. If we are to address that problem in the current treaty framework, we also need to address the clear obligation in the treaty for the developed countries, in particular the nuclear weapons states, to facilitate the transfer of peaceful, civil nuclear technology

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to other countries that have agreed not to go down the path of developing nuclear weapons programmes of their own.

I fully understand the wish of many countries in the developing world to develop their own civil nuclear programmes. There is a duty on the existing nuclear weapons powers to live up to the expectation of the treaty that everything possible would be done to facilitate the transfer of civil nuclear technology. That could be achieved in various ways: there could be some kind of international partnership whereby a small number of states produce nuclear fuel that could then be made available to others; or there could be a network of fuel banks managed and policed on an international basis. That might enable us both to meet the developing countries' need for nuclear energy and to prevent countries such as North Korea from getting access to the sensitive parts of the nuclear fuel cycle that might make possible the rapid development of a weapons programme in the future.

Finally, I hope that the Minister will say something about the Government's approach to the black market in nuclear technology and nuclear weapons. United Nations resolution 1540 calls on every member state to criminalise proliferation action of that type. There is a need for even better intelligence co-operation against proliferation than is in place and for tighter controls on existing stockpiles.

Jeremy Corbyn: Will the hon. Gentleman be able to say anything about his party's position on the expiry of the strategic arms reduction treaty in 2009 and the danger that between then and the NPT conference there could be the development of a new arms race between Russia and the United States?

Mr. Lidington: I hope that the British Government will do everything possible to try to prevent the development of such an arms race. A new arms race between Russia and the US is in the interests of neither of those countries, nor is it in the interests of world peace. I hope that the recent contacts between the US and the Russian Government about the controversial issue of the anti-missile system lead to an agreement that will defuse the risk of such an arms race.

The NPT and its associated system of controls has, on the whole, served the world well. I hope that the Government will be prepared to acknowledge that in the new situation, given the growing risk of proliferation that we now face, further action is needed to strengthen the existing safeguards. That represents a way forward that is in the interests of the security of the United Kingdom and of international peace.

10.37 am

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Meg Munn): I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North (Jeremy Corbyn) on securing this debate. I thank him and other hon. Members for their kind words of welcome. Many thoughtful and considered contributions were made and we heard many sincerely held views. I shall do my best to respond to all of the many points that have been made. I ask hon. Members to bear with me and wait until I have got well into my speech before attempting to intervene if they fear that I am not going to respond to a particular point. I shall happily take interventions at that stage.

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From the Government's perspective the timing of the debate could not be better, because, as has been mentioned by several hon. Members, just a month ago the then Foreign Secretary spoke to the Carnegie international non-proliferation conference in Washington to call for a renewed commitment to a world free from nuclear weapons. She received a standing ovation for her speech-my aspirations this morning are somewhat lower, none the less I shall refer to the plan that she set out. The Carnegie speech set out how we as a Government want to reinvigorate the international approach to nuclear disarmament, with the explicit goal of reinforcing the NPT process in the run-up to the review conference in 2010, to which several hon. Members have referred.

I believe that the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Lidington) said that the UK has an exceptional record in meeting our NPT disarmament commitments, and we should be clear about that. What are those commitments? Article 6 imposes an obligation on all states to pursue in good faith negotiations on effective measures for cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date, on nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament. The NPT review conference in 2000 agreed by consensus 13 practical steps towards implementation of article 6. The UK remains committed to those steps and is making progress on them.

We are disarming. The House heard in March of our decision to reduce the UK's stockpile of operationally available warheads by a further 20 per cent. to less than 160. Significant as that is, it is just the latest in a series of dramatic reductions in the UK's nuclear weapons. Since the end of the cold war, the explosive power of UK nuclear weapons will have been reduced by 75 per cent. UK nuclear weapons account for less than 1 per cent. of the global inventory.

We have withdrawn and dismantled our tactical marine and airborne nuclear capabilities and, consequently, have reduced our reliance on nuclear weapons to one system: submarine-based Trident. As hon. Members have said, we are the only nuclear-weapons state to have done that. We have also reduced the readiness of the remaining nuclear force. We now have only one boat on patrol at any one time and it carries no more than 48 warheads. We have not conducted a nuclear test explosion since 1991, and we have signed and ratified the comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty. We have ceased production of fissile material for nuclear weapons. We have also increased transparency of our fissile material holdings, and we have produced historical records of our defence holdings of both plutonium and highly enriched uranium.

Our decision to renew the Trident system did not reverse or undermine any of those positive disarmament steps. The UK is not upgrading the capabilities of the system, and there is no move to produce more useable weapons and no change in our nuclear posture or doctrine. The UK's nuclear weapons are not designed for military use during conflicts. They are a strategic deterrent that we would contemplate using only in extreme circumstances of self-defence. Over the past 50 years, the deterrent has been used only to deter acts of aggression against our vital interests, never to coerce others. I fundamentally disagree with the hon. Member for Castle Point (Bob Spink), because we are not ramping up our weapons.

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Hon. Members referred to timing and whether we needed to make a decision now. The issue was debated at length during the Trident debate, so I do not intend to go into it in great detail today. My right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, the then Foreign Secretary, said specifically that it would mean a decision to begin a process to design, build and commission submarines to replace the existing Vanguard class boats. That will take some 17 years, so the decision was necessary. It was discussed at great length, and it was appropriate to make it. I shall speak about the cost in a moment.

Bob Spink: If replacing Trident will not increase our capability, why are we doing it?

Meg Munn: Because we are maintaining the existing situation while reducing the number of warheads. Renewal is simply about maintaining the minimum nuclear capability necessary for our security, while we continue to pursue in good faith the conditions for a world free from nuclear weapons. The simple truth is that the UK is implementing its obligations under the NPT, while those states that are developing illicit nuclear weapons programmes are not.

A number of hon. Members referred to cost. The average annual procurement cost represents less than 0.1 per cent. of gross domestic product, and we believe that that price is worth paying to maintain our capability. Since coming to power, the Government have increased investment in many of our public services and elsewhere, so this is not something that should be offset against this matter. Our annual expenditure on capital and running costs of the Trident nuclear deterrent, including the cost of the Atomic Weapons Establishment, from its entry into service in 1994-95 to 2004-05 is in the range of 3-4 per cent. of the defence budget.

The UK is not the only nuclear weapons state to have been disarming. We have welcomed the series of bilateral agreements since the end of the cold war that have greatly reduced the major nuclear arsenals. By the end of this year, the US will have fewer than half the number of silo-based nuclear missiles that it had in 1990. By 2012, US operationally deployed strategic nuclear warheads will be reduced to about one third of 2001 levels. Under the terms of the strategic offensive reductions treaty, Russia is making parallel cuts. The French have withdrawn four complete weapons systems.

Last year, Kofi Annan said that the world risks becoming mired in a sterile stand-off between those who care most about disarmament, and those who care most about proliferation. He was right. The dangers of such mutually assured paralysis are dangers for us all. Any solution must be a dual one, with movement on both proliferation and disarmament-a revitalisation of the grand bargain that my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North set out so well at the beginning of his speech, and which was struck in 1968, when the non-proliferation treaty was established.

Today the non-proliferation regime is under pressure, as a number of hon. Members said. We have seen the emergence of a mixture of further declared and undeclared nuclear powers, and two more countries-Iran and North Korea, which are both signatories to the NPT-present further challenges to the international community. Their actions have profound and direct implications for global security, and raise the serious prospect of proliferation across their region.

24 July 2007 : Column 199WH

The Government welcome Iran's discussions with the International Atomic Energy Association about resolving outstanding safeguarding issues, and we hope for rapid progress. Iran's suspension of all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities required by UN Security Council resolution remains crucial to restoring international confidence in Iran's nuclear intentions. It is not complying with that requirement and that is why we are discussing a possible sanctions resolution with our E3 plus three partners. As the UN Security Council has repeatedly made clear, if Iran meets the requirements for a suspension, that will open the way to negotiation with the E3 plus three about a mutually acceptable long-term arrangement. We are working hard to ensure that the matter is taken seriously.

We are not party to the six-party talks process, but we welcome the recent progress and sincerely hope that there will be further progress.

Jeremy Corbyn: The Minister is talking about NPT signatories, but will she say what strategy the Government intend to pursue to try to persuade India and Pakistan to become signatories to the treaty, and explain the situation in Israel, which I understand now has more than 200 warheads, rather more than there are in this country? That is clearly a factor, but not the only one, in the middle east region.

Meg Munn: As my hon. Friend is probably aware, the Government want universalisation of the NPT, and we want everyone to sign up to it. I shall refer to our general approach in trying to reinvigorate the process later in my speech.

Our efforts on non-proliferation will be dangerously undermined if others believe, however unfairly, that the terms of the grand bargain have changed, so we must do more than just have an exemplary record on disarmament to date. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Margaret Beckett), the former Foreign Secretary, made clear in her speech in Washington, we need a renewed commitment to a world free from nuclear weapons, and a convincing plan. The point is not to convince the Iranians or the North Koreans and I do not believe for a second that further reductions in our nuclear weapons would have a material effect on their nuclear ambitions. The reason for doing more is that the moderate majority of states-our natural and vital allies on non-proliferation-want us to do more, and if we do not do so, we risk helping Iran and North Korea in their efforts to muddy the water and to turn the blame for their own nuclear intransigence back on us.

I shall deal with the point that the hon. Member for Castle Point made about terrorism. International terrorism is a serious and sustained threat, and we must do everything we can to develop a comprehensive strategy to deal with it. However, it is not a matter of choice; we do not have to-nor should we-choose between addressing terrorist threats and nuclear threats, and we cannot choose between dealing either with those threats or with the challenges of climate change. We have to deal with all of them, and we will continue to do so.

The Government are committed to an effective IAEA. We do not accept that it has insufficient resources to

24 July 2007 : Column 200WH

carry out its responsibility, and we will continue to make significant voluntary contributions to it to ensure that we provide it with appropriate support. This year's settlement provided a real increase to the budget of 1.4 per cent..

Richard Younger-Ross: The Minister mentioned making progress with the NPT, and that we have only one system-Trident. The Government document on the issue said:

"We are the only nuclear power that has so far been prepared to take such an important step"-

having just one weapons-based system-

"on the route to nuclear disarmament."

If the Minister says that she is in favour of progressing the NPT, and the Government document says that they are in favour of further nuclear disarmament, are any of the weapons systems that we want to replace up for negotiation?

Meg Munn: We have set out our replacement for the Trident system and design. That is what we are discussing. Our position is that disarmament should be multilateral, and I shall come on both to address what we consider to be the important next steps and to respond to the hon. Gentleman's questions about our plans moving towards 2010.

Let me just outline the key components. First, we will continue to call for significant further reductions in the major Russian and US nuclear arsenals. We hope that the existing bilateral treaties will be succeeded by further clear commitments to significantly lower warhead numbers, including tactical as well as strategic nuclear weapons. We are clear that when it becomes useful to include in any negotiations the 1 per cent. of the world's nuclear weapons that belong to the UK, we will willingly do so.

Secondly, we must press on with the comprehensive test ban treaty and with the fissile material cut-off treaty. Both treaties limit in real and practical ways the ability of states that are party to them to develop new weapons and expand their nuclear capabilities. The treaties play a very powerful symbolic role, too, signalling to the rest of the world that the race for more and bigger weapons is over, and that the direction from now on will be down not up. In other words, they are exactly the sort of

"effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race"

that article 6 requires us to negotiate. That is why we are so keen for those countries that have not yet done so to ratify the comprehensive test ban treaty, and why we continue to work hard for the start of negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty in Geneva.

Thirdly, we should begin now to build deeper relationships on disarmament between nuclear weapon states. For the UK's part, we have made it clear that we are ready and willing to engage with other members of the P5 on transparency and confidence-building measures.

Finally, we have also announced a series of unilateral activities that the UK will undertake as a "disarmament laboratory". We will participate in a new project by the International Institute for Strategic Studies on the practical steps required for the elimination of nuclear weapons, and we will undertake further detailed work at the UK's Atomic Weapons Establishment on the nuts and bolts

24 July 2007 : Column 201WH

of nuclear disarmament. That work will examine three discrete issues related to the verification of disarmament, the authentication of warheads, chain of custody problems in sensitive nuclear weapons facilities, and monitored storage of dismantled nuclear weapons.

I shall now deal with the other points that Members have raised. We are committed to all the NPT's three pillars: disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful use of nuclear power. The former Foreign Secretary set out that commitment very clearly in her speech in Washington, and if Members have not read it, I commend it to them. The UK is showing leadership. We are taking forward the practical work that I have just outlined, and we are working with EU partners on proposals to make withdrawal from the NPT more difficult. It is crucial for international security that states cannot just walk away and develop nuclear weapons. We are also working with Germany and the Netherlands on a uranium bond proposal that would offer countries wishing to develop their own civil nuclear industries guaranteed supplies of nuclear fuel in return for agreed safeguards.

My hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North raised the issue of Mordechai Vanunu. My hon. Friend will appreciate that we are talking about an Israeli citizen in Israel. However, I can assure my hon. Friend that during Mr. Vanunu's detention and subsequent to his release, we have raised the issue of the restrictions on him with the Israeli authorities.

In article six, there are two key words: "good faith". The UK's record is one of good-faith disarmament. That is why we are recognised as the most forward-leaning nuclear weapons state. I have described today our determination to reinvigorate the global approach to nuclear disarmament, and the practical steps that we are taking to help achieve a world free from nuclear weapons. It should be clear that this Government are acting, and will continue to act, in the utmost good faith in fulfilling our disarmament obligations under the non-proliferation treaty.

10.56 am

Sitting suspended.


Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty, House of Commons, Written Answers, 25 July 2007, Column 1116W

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what suggestions were put forward by (a) the US and (b) France at the 2007 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Preparatory Committee Meeting on the issue of withdrawal from the NPT; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Jim Murphy: The United States and EU both tabled proposals to raise the cost for States Parties seeking to withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) at the 2007 Preparatory Committee. France did not submit a national proposal, but assisted in drafting the EU paper.

The common elements of these proposals include referral of withdrawal notifications to the United Nations Security Council; steps to hold the withdrawing Party accountable for NPT violations prior to withdrawal; and continuing International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards for nuclear materials and equipment acquired or developed whilst an NPT signatory.

The full proposals are available at: http://www.un.org/NPT2010/documents.html. (NPT/CONF. 2010/PC.1/WP.22-US proposal-and NPT/CONF.2010/PC.I/WP.25* - EU proposal).


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Iran: Nuclear Weapons, House of Commons, Written Answers, 12 July 2007, Column 1654W

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what commitments have been made by Iran to co-operate with the International Atomic Energy Agency in resolving outstanding issues relating to Iran's nuclear programme; and if he will make a statement.

David Miliband: Iran has a Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and has signed, but not ratified, an Additional Protocol to this agreement.

As the IAEA has made clear over a series of reports to its Board of Governors and to the UN Security Council,

"unless Iran addresses the long outstanding verification issues, and implements the Additional Protocol and the required transparency measures, the Agency will not be able to fully reconstruct the history of Iran's nuclear programme and provide assurances about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran or about the exclusively peaceful nature of that programme".

The IAEA has consistently requested additional transparency measures from Iran which it regards as essential to resolving these outstanding concerns.

While we welcome Iran's latest declaration of willingness to co-operate with the IAEA to resolve the outstanding issues, it is essential that Iran provides full co- operation and transparency towards the IAEA, as it has so far failed to do. Resolution of the outstanding issues is something Iran should take forward as a matter of urgency as a member of the IAEA. However, it is not a substitute for suspension of Iran's proliferation sensitive nuclear activities, as requested by the IAEA Board of Governors as a confidence-building measure and made mandatory by the UN Security Council.


Iran: Nuclear Power, House of Commons, Written Answers, 18 July 2007, Column 408W

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what response he has made to the remarks by the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) at the 9 July meeting of the IAEA board of governors that there has been a slowing in the process of commissioning new cascades in Iran's centrifuge facility at Natanz; and what the change in the use of centrifuges at Natanz has been.

David Miliband: We have noted the remarks of the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Dr. ElBaradei, about a slowing in the process of commissioning new cascades at Natanz. We await further information from the IAEA before we can make a detailed assessment of this development, but a key point is that the relevant UN Security Council resolutions require Iran to suspend all enrichment-related activities, not merely to slow down the rate of their expansion.

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his latest assessment is of Iran's military nuclear capability.

Dr. Howells: We have serious concerns about Iran's nuclear programme. The Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported on 23 May that he was still unable to verify certain aspects relevant to the scope and nature of Iran's programme. Therefore, the IAEA was unable to provide assurances about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities, or about the exclusively peaceful nature of the programme. Until the IAEA can provide such assurances, the international community's concerns about Iran's programme will remain.


Iran: Nuclear Power, House of Commons, Written Answers, 19 July 2007, Column 523W

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent proposals have been put to Iranian representatives by the EU High Representative on modalities for the opening of negotiations on Iran's nuclear programme.

David Miliband: The EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana, has had a number of meetings in recent months with his Iranian interlocutor, Supreme National Security Council Secretary Dr. Ali Larijani, most recently in Lisbon on 23 June. In those meetings, he has consistently reiterated to the Iranians that the E3+3 (UK, France, Germany, Russia, China and US) are prepared to enter into negotiations with them on the basis of the "elements of a long term agreement", annexed to UN Security Council Resolution 1747 (March 2007). We regret that Iran continues to refuse to suspend its proliferation-sensitive nuclear activities, as requested by the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors as a confidence-building measure and made mandatory by the UN Security Council, which would open the way for those negotiations to begin.

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the (a) construction and (b) purpose of a tunnel facility near the Natanz uranium enrichment complex in Iran; and if he will make a statement.

David Miliband: We are aware of media reports about new tunnel construction at a mountain adjacent to the Natanz facility. The International Atomic Energy Agency are aware of the tunnel and we understand the Iranians have told the Agency that they will provide information on its purpose, although we have not received confirmation from the Agency that they have done so yet.


Iran: Foreign Relations, House of Commons, Written Answers, 23 July 2007, Column 707W

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the outcome of the review of UK relations with Iran announced in April 2007.

David Miliband: The review of relations with Iran is continuing, but the principles underpinning our policy towards Iran have not changed.

Iran has every right to develop its own economy and society. We welcome dialogue and engagement with Iran as it does so, but it must also accept that it has responsibilities to the region and the wider international community. It cannot violate the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty nor undermine regional stability.


Iran: Nuclear Power, House of Commons, Written Answers, 23 July 2007, Column 707W

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made in the multilateral enrichment of uranium for the production of nuclear power in Iran; and if he will make a statement.

Dr. Howells: The generous offer made by the E3+3 in June 2006, and annexed to UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1747, includes active support for the building of new light water power reactors in Iran and the provision of legally binding multi-layered fuel assurances to Iran. These would be based on: participation as a partner in an international facility in Russia to provide enrichment services; establishment on commercial terms of a buffer stock to hold a reserve of five years' supply of nuclear fuel dedicated to Iran; and development with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of a standing multilateral mechanism for reliable access to nuclear fuel, based on ideas currently being considered by the IAEA and Board of Governors.

But before negotiations can begin Iran needs to suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, as required by three successive UNSCRs.


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North Korea

North Korea: Diplomatic Relations, House of Commons, Written Answers, 25 June 2007, Column 208W

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the main achievements of the UK diplomatic presence in North Korea over the last12 months.

Mr. McCartney: Our embassy in Pyongyang has achieved a great deal despite the very difficult operating environment. Our ambassador and officials have been able both to put to Korean ministers our concerns about human rights in their country and to urge them to abandon their nuclear programme. As our embassy is the only representative of the P3 in Pyongyang our voice, especially on these issues, is particularly important.


North Korea: Nuclear Weapons, House of Commons, Written Answers, 25 June 2007, Column 208W

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports she has received of North Korea's most recent testing of a short range ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan; and if she will make a statement.

Dr. Howells: The media reported on 19 June that North Korea had test fired a short-range missile into the Sea of Japan.

We have since consulted our international partners and concluded that, contrary to initial media reporting, North Korea did not test fire any missiles on 19 June.

Recent media reporting on 21 June also reflected that North Korea did not conduct a missile test launch on 19 June.


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Israel: Non-Proliferation Treaty, House of Commons, Written Answers, 23 July 2007, Column 708W

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to encourage Israel (a) to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and (b) to allow entry to International Atomic Energy Agency monitoring personnel.

Dr. Howells: The Government have on a number of occasions called on Israel to accede to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty as a non-nuclear weapon state, and to conclude a full scope safeguards agreement and additional protocol with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). We continue to take appropriate opportunities to discuss all aspects of non-proliferation with representatives of the Israeli government.

Israel has a site-specific safeguards agreement with the IAEA, which gives the IAEA access to the Soreq nuclear site for monitoring purposes. Details of this can be found on the IAEA website at:


Mordechai Vanunu, House of Commons, Written Answers, 23 July 2007, Column 709W

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the Israeli government on Mordechai Vanunu.

Dr. Howells: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has had no such discussions with the Israeli government.

We are aware that Mr. Vanunu was re-convicted on 30 April of breaching an order barring him from contacts with the foreign press. The Government raised Mr. Vanunu's case with the Israeli government on a number of occasions during his detention. After Mr Vanunu was released, we then raised the conditions of his release with the Israeli government. We have made our concerns clear to the Israeli government.


Israel: Nuclear Weapons, House of Commons, Written Answers, 26 July 2007, Column 1472W

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 23 July 2007, Official Report, column 708W, on Israel: Non-Proliferation Treaty, whether Israel is a non-nuclear weapon state.

Meg Munn: The Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) defines a nuclear weapon state as: any state which has manufactured and exploded a nuclear weapon or other nuclear explosive device prior to 1 January 1967. This definition is exclusive to the following states party: the People's Republic of China; the French Republic; the Russian Federation; the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland; and the United States of America.

As the State of Israel has never signed the NPT, it is classed as neither a Nuclear Weapon State, nor a Non-Nuclear Weapon State.


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Nuclear Test Veterans

Exservicemen: Radiation Exposure, House of Commons, Written Answers, 12 July 2007, Column 1599W

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the possible obligations the Government have to nuclear test veterans under the EU Directive Euratom 96/29.

Derek Twigg [holding answer 9 July 2007]: A resolution of the EU Parliament of 10 May 2007 called on member states to apply European Council Directive 96/29/Euratom on safety standards relating to ionising radiation. It is not legally binding, and the clearly stated position of this Government is that Euratom has no application to UK defence activities.

The UK Government, none the less, recognise their obligations to veterans of the UK nuclear tests. In particular, they have since 1983 commissioned three reports from the independent National Radiological Protection Board on possible adverse health effects of participation in these tests. These found no general effect on participants' expectation of life nor on risk of

12 July 2007 : Column 1600W

developing most cancers, though there was a small increase in risk of some leukaemias. The outcome of these studies is reflected in the MOD's handling of claims under the War Pension and Armed Forces Compensation Schemes.


Prime Ministers Questions, House of Commons, 13 Jun 2007, Column 760

Dr. Ian Gibson (Norwich, North) (Lab): I would like to point out to the Prime Minister that there is a group that represents British nuclear test veterans, including those who worked on Christmas Island. Some startling work from New Zealand shows that genetic abnormalities are associated with the brave men and women who stared into the face of atomic bombs. Does the Prime Minister agree that we ought to help the people from our country who went out there and served for us?

The Prime Minister: Yes of course I agree with that, and I might be able to correspond with them about what help we can give them.


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Depleted Uranium

Armed Forces: Depleted Uranium, House of Commons, Written Answers, 25 June 2007, 95W

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will estimate the number of (a) serving and (b) retired UK service personnel who have embedded depleted uranium shrapnel.

Derek Twigg: We understand that less than five serving or retired UK service personnel carry embedded depleted uranium shrapnel following blue-on-blue incidents during Operation Telic.


Bosnia: Depleted Uranium, House of Commons, Written Answers, 21 June 2007, Column 2199W

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) how many civilians in (a) Bosnia and (b) Kosovo have been reported as showing signs of depleted uranium contamination during the last 10 years; and if she will make a statement;

(2) what efforts the Department is making to monitor the effects of depleted uranium on civilians in (a) Bosnia and (b) Kosovo.

Mr. Hoon: While the UK has not used depleted uranium munitions in the Balkans, we maintain a watching brief on related scientific developments.

The Ministry of Defence carried out depleted uranium environmental monitoring surveys in Kosovo in 2001 and in Bosnia in 2002, Only limited and localised depleted uranium contamination was detected and the reports concluded that there is no foreseeable way in which this could present a radioactive or toxic risk for the environment or human health. These findings are in line with those of the UN

21 Jun 2007 : Column 2201W

environment programme's reports on the Balkans, and, under World Health Organisation recommendations, do not indicate a need for systematic monitoring of the civilian population.


Depleted Uranium Exposure, House of Commons, Written Statement, 3 July 2007, Column 44WS

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Derek Twigg): In 2003 King's College London was commissioned by the Ministry of Defence , as part of its major health and wellbeing survey of Operation

3 July 2007 : Column 45WS

TELIC personnel, to investigate the distribution and determinants of exposure to depleted uranium (DU) resulting from the use of DU munitions. Researchers visited bases in the UK and Germany and obtained urine samples from a total of 369 personnel who had taken part in the combat phase of the operation. Volunteers were sought in four categories, combat, non-combat, battlefield medical and vehicle clean-up personnel among which the last two groups were expected to have the greatest chance of exposure.

The findings of the study are today being published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine. No evidence was found for DU contamination in UK forces exposed to DU munitions. Analysis of the urine samples indicated only traces of natural uranium from normal dietary sources at levels consistent with those in non DU-exposed populations.

3 July 2007 : Column 46WS

I welcome publication of these results, which should further reassure our veterans and others that the risk of incidental contamination by battlefield use of DU munitions is very small.


Depleted Uranium: Irish Sea, House of Commons, Written Answers, 5 July 2007, Column 1134W

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many depleted uranium shells were fired into the Irish Sea and the waters feeding into the Irish Sea in each of the last 30 years.

Derek Twigg: No depleted uranium (DU) shells have been fired into the Irish Sea. DU projectiles have been fired from Kirkcudbright into the Solway Firth since 1982 and the numbers fired to date are shown in the following table.

In addition, during 1988 and 1990, 100 and 215 rounds of depleted uranium ammunition respectively were fired into Luce Bay, West Freugh, as part of experimental firings to examine the ricochet effects of ammunitions from the Phalanx weapons system following first water impact.

The table has been compiled from individual entries in a daily log maintained at Kirkcudbright. While preparing this table, differences were noted between the annual totals obtained on this occasion and the information published in Hansard on 12 March 2001, Official Report, column 411W, in answer to a similar question. The reason for the discrepancies is because some preparatory rounds, which did not contain DU, were included in the earlier data.

Numbers fired (including malfunctions)
























































Depleted Uranium, House of Commons, Written Answers, 25 July 2007, Column 1077W

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent estimate he has made of the number of blue on blue incidents in which UK forces have been hit by depleted uranium munitions; and if he will make a statement.

Derek Twigg: The Ministry of Defence is aware of one friendly fire incident on 28 March 2003 in Iraq in which British troops were injured or killed by depleted uranium based ammunition.


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