Lords Debate – 14 May 2007

Debate in the House of Lords on Nuclear Disarmament: Seven-nation Initiative – Monday 14 May 2007. Click here to read the full debate.

Lord Hannay of Chiswick (Crossbench) asked Her Majesty’s Government:

    What assessment they have made of the value of the United Kingdom’s membership of the seven-nation initiative on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament; and what are their intentions with regard to the future work of the group, particularly in the run-up to the next review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2010.

Lord Triesman (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office): My Lords, we believe that the seven-country initiative has served to broaden understanding of positions on disarmament and non-proliferation and to extend consensus on these important issues. The seven-nation initiative will rightly look to encourage progress in all areas of the NPT during this review cycle and I am pleased to say that the Foreign Secretary recently confirmed to the Norwegian Foreign Minister that the United Kingdom remains a committed member.


Baroness Williams of Crosby (Liberal Democrat): My Lords, is the Minister aware that earlier this year a remarkable letter was written to the Wall Street Journal by Dr Kissinger, Mr Schultz, the former Republican Secretary of State, the former Minister of Defence for President Clinton and Senator Nunn, which said that the goal must now be the abolition of all nuclear weapons? I think that the Minister would agree that that is a rather surprising group and that in light of that it is important that the United Kingdom is seen to be taking the lead on issues such as the fuel energy bank and the cut-off for fissile materials if we are to stop the possibility of a dangerous rush towards proliferation on the part of non-nuclear powers.

Lord Triesman (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office): My Lords, the Government have been clear that the whole issue of the nuclear materials bank would be an extremely important move. The difficulties have been practical ones over many years of defining what should be in the bank, given the wide variety of fissionable materials. That was one of the reasons why we worked on it and came up with the enrichment bond. I emphasise that point because the IAEA also feels that this might be a route through to full compliance with the non-proliferation treaty and one which should engage the energies of all of those thinking of nuclear fuel rather than nuclear weapons.


Lord Archer of Sandwell  (Labour): My Lords, does my noble friend consider that the plans to renew Trident are a step toward nuclear disarmament?

Lord Triesman (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office): My Lords, I recall that when we held the Trident debate, my noble and learned friend made some very persuasive points. I made the point that we are a recognised nuclear power, we regard ourselves as having legitimate interests and we are not, at the moment, in a position to believe that the world will become so secure and peaceful that we can readily give up our ability to protect ourselves. In those circumstances, there has to be a credible means of delivering nuclear weapons. I make this point because that is our platform. We have one, and it should be an effective one if we are serious about that component of our defence.