Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Nuclear Disarmament – Monday 3 December 2007

Mark Lazarowicz (PPS (David Cairns, Minister of State), Scotland Office, Labour): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made towards the achievement of the 13 practical steps towards nuclear disarmament agreed at the NPT Review Conference in 2000; and if he will make a statement.

Dr. Howells (Minister of State, Foreign & Commonwealth Office): The UK is fulfilling all its obligations under the treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons (NPT), including those on disarmament under article VI of the treaty. We continue to support the relevant disarmament measures contained in the Final Document from the NPT Review Conference in 2000, including the 13 practical steps towards disarmament, and we have a good record on meeting the priorities they set out. Not all the 13 steps are relevant to the UK, such as those relating to bilateral measures between the US and Russia. However, we have made progress on the majority of those that are. The 2006 White Paper on the future of the UK nuclear deterrent committed us to a further 20 per cent. reduction in our stockpile of operationally available warheads and my right hon. Friend the then Foreign Secretary (Margaret Beckett) announced on 25 June, at the Carnegie Institute, further work on the development of expertise in methods and techniques to verify the reduction and elimination of nuclear weapons. We continue to call for the entry into force of the comprehensive test ban treaty as soon as possible and, pending its entry into force, maintain a moratorium on nuclear weapons test explosions and any other nuclear explosions. The UK is also pressing for the immediate commencement of negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty, without pre-conditions, at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.

Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty – Monday 26 November 2007

Mr. Moore (Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs; Liberal Democrat): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what preparations have been made for the non-proliferation treaty review conference talks in 2010, what role he expects the European Union will play in these talks; and if he will make a statement.

David Miliband (Secretary of State, Foreign & Commonwealth Office): The United Kingdom strongly supports the European Union’s Common Position of strengthening the three key pillars—non-proliferation, disarmament and peaceful use of nuclear technology—of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT). EU member states played an important role in the positive outcome to this year’s NPT Preparatory Committee. We will continue to work closely with European Union partners to achieve success in the new non-proliferation treaty (NPT) review cycle.

UN General Assembly: Nuclear Disarmament – Thursday 25 October 2007

Dr. Gibson (Norwich North, Labour): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs at what level his Department is represented at the ongoing 62nd session of the United Nations General Assembly; what proposals the UK will present before the committee dealing with nuclear disarmament; and if he will make a statement.

Dr. Howells (Minister of State, Foreign & Commonwealth Office): The United Kingdom is represented at the United Nations General Assembly First Committee by John Duncan, our ambassador for Multilateral Arms Control and Disarmament and Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament at Geneva. Ambassador Duncan is supported by colleagues based in Geneva, New York and London. Within First Committee the UK traditionally makes common statements with our EU partners. Accordingly, the EU delivered a statement in the nuclear weapons debate on 17 October this year. The EU reiterated its support for the pursuit of nuclear disarmament in accordance with article VI of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and stressed the need for an overall reduction of the global stockpile of nuclear weapons, in particular by those countries which possess the largest arsenals. The EU urged all states to sign and ratify the comprehensive nuclear-test ban treaty without delay and to begin negotiation without preconditions on a fissile material cut-off treaty in the conference on disarmament. The EU also called on all states concerned to take appropriate practical measures in order to reduce the risk of accidental nuclear war.

Dr. Gibson (Norwich North, Labour): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the UK will make a statement at the United Nations General Assembly on (a) the operating status of nuclear weapons, (b) renewed determination towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons and (c) the World Nuclear Weapons convention; and if he will make a statement. [160820]

Dr. Howells (Minister of State, Foreign & Commonwealth Office): Within the United Nations General Assembly First Committee the UK traditionally makes common statements with our EU partners. Accordingly, the EU delivered a statement in the nuclear weapons debate on 17 October this year. The EU reiterated its support for the pursuit of nuclear disarmament in accordance with article VI of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and stressed the need for an overall reduction of the global stockpile of nuclear weapons, in particular by those countries which possess the largest arsenals. The EU also called on all states concerned to take appropriate practical measures in order to reduce the risk of accidental nuclear war. There are a number of resolutions that will be voted upon during the First Committee that relate to the issues raised. The possibility of the UK delivering a national explanation of vote on some of these resolutions is currently being considered.

Nuclear Weapons: Treaties – Tuesday 5 June 2007

Jim Cousins (Newcastle upon Tyne Central, Labour): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the Government plan to sign up to the draft nuclear weapons convention lodged with the UN.

Dr. Howells (Minister of State, Foreign & Commonwealth Office): The Government consider the treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons (NPT) to be the cornerstone of the global nuclear non-proliferation regime and the framework for nuclear disarmament. The UK has an excellent record in implementing its disarmament obligations under article VI of the NPT and is committed to working towards a safer world in which there is no requirement for nuclear weapons. The Government do not support any new process, including a nuclear weapons convention, which could risk cutting across the existing NPT regime.

Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty – Thursday 24 May 2007

Mr. Dai Davies (Blaenau Gwent, Independent): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which officials and ministers comprise the United Kingdom delegation to the prepatory committee to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty Review Conference 2010; if she will publish on her Departmental web site all speeches made by the United Kingdom to the Committee in Vienna and list their URLs; and what support was provided by her Department to non-governmental organisations to attend the committee between 30 April and 11 May.

Dr. Howells (Minister of State, Foreign & Commonwealth Office): The UK delegation was led by John Duncan, the United Kingdom Ambassador for multilateral Arms Control and Disarmament in Geneva. He was accompanied by officials and experts from our mission in Geneva, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), the Ministry of Defence, the Department of Trade and Industry and Southampton University. The statements made by the United Kingdom at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty PrepCom will soon be published on the website of the UK Disarmament Mission in Geneva at:

They are also available on the UN website at:

The UK delegation met with UK non-governmental organisations (NGOs) at the FCO on 3 April and had further formal and informal discussions throughout the course of the PrepCom. No NGOs sought or received financial support from the FCO to attend this meeting.

Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty – Wednesday 23 May 2007

Mr. Wareing (Liverpool, West Derby, Labour): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what initiatives to promote multilateral disarmament the Government are proposing at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Preparatory Committee meeting in Vienna being held in May; and if she will make a statement.

Mr. McCartney (Minister of State (Trade & Investment), Department of Trade and Industry): The UK statement of 30 April to the meeting of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Preparatory Committee will be made available to the Library of the House. On multilateral disarmament, this made clear the importance of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and encouraged those countries that had not yet done so to sign and ratify the treaty. It reiterated UK support for a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty and called for a prompt start to negotiations at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva. It also called on the US and Russia to make further progress on disarmament through their bilateral arms control agreements.

Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty – Monday 23 April 2007

Mark Lazarowicz (Edinburgh North & Leith, Labour): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress her Department has made on negotiations towards a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty; and what the key obstacles are to such negotiations.

Mr. McCartney (Minister of State (Trade & Investment), Department of Trade and Industry): The UK continues to push for the early start of negotiations, without preconditions, on a Fissile Material Cut off Treaty (FMCT) in the Conference on Disarmament (CD). The UK’s, and the wider EU’s, support for such a Treaty is well known. In the Common Position negotiated in advance of the 2005 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference (7768/05), the EU appealed to the CD for the immediate commencement and early conclusion of a non-discriminatory, universally applicable Treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. The UK welcomes the US initiative made in Geneva in May 2006 to table a draft treaty text and draft mandate for negotiations. We hope that all CD member states are able to accept the very broad mandate proposed and agree to open negotiations towards a treaty without delay.

Progress has been blocked by some nations linking the start of FMCT negotiations to progress on other unrelated CD agenda items.

UN Disarmament Commission – 23 April 2007

Mark Lazarowicz (Edinburgh North & Leith, Labour): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps her Department has taken to promote the UN Disarmament Commission discussion framework.

Dr. Howells (Minister of State, Foreign & Commonwealth Office): The Government are fully committed to the UN Disarmament Commission (UNDC) discussion framework. We worked hard to ensure that in April 2006 the UNDC completed its first substantive session since 2003 and that consensus agreement was achieved on the Final Report. This included “recommendations for achieving the objectives of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons”. Discussions at this year’s session of the UNDC are currently under way in New York. The UK delegation hopes to build on last year’s achievements this year and in 2008, when the UNDC’s current three-year cycle will conclude.

Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty – Thursday 19 April 2007

Lynne Jones (Birmingham, Selly Oak, Labour): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what plans she has for proposals to take forward the UK’s multilateral disarmament commitments in the run up to the May 2007 Preparatory Committee meeting for the 2010 nuclear non-proliferation treaty review conference; and whether she has had any discussions with her United States counterparts on such proposals;

(2) what initiatives she is planning to take forward the UK’s multilateral disarmament commitments in the run up to the Preparatory Committee meeting for the 2010 nuclear non-proliferation treaty review conference in Vienna in May; and whether she has had any discussions with her United States counterpart on such proposals.

Dr. Howells (Minister of State, Foreign & Commonwealth Office): The Government are strongly committed to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT), which is the cornerstone of the nuclear non-proliferation regime and the framework for nuclear disarmament. The UK is determined to make every effort to ensure that this review cycle results in a positive and substantive final document at the 2010 Review Conference that moves forward all aspects of Treaty implementation, including disarmament. We are working with allies, including the US, to lay the groundwork for this at the April-May 2007 NPT Preparatory Committee. We believe we have already made a contribution by announcing, in the White Paper on the Future of the UK’s Nuclear Deterrent, a further 20 per cent. cut in our warhead stockpile.

Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty – Monday 26 February 2007

Paul Flynn (Newport West, Labour): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will release the negotiating record for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty at the United Nations between 1965 and 1968 from the National Archives.

Dr. Howells (Minister of State, Foreign & Commonwealth Office): The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty was negotiated in the Eighteen Nation Disarmament Committee in Geneva; the plenary statements and documents of the participants are already publicly available. Foreign and Commonwealth Office internal papers on the negotiations are open at the National Archives. Full file lists can be obtained from the National Archives website at:

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/catalogue

Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty – Monday 19 February 2007

Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North, Labour): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs who she expects to represent the UK at the non-proliferation treaty preparatory committee meeting in Geneva in May.

Dr. Howells (Minister of State, Foreign & Commonwealth Office): The UK delegation to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty preparatory committee in Vienna in May will be headed by Ambassador John Duncan, the United Kingdom’s Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva. He will be accompanied by officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Ministry of Defence and the Department of Trade and Industry. No decision has yet been made on ministerial attendance.

Nuclear Weapons – Monday 5 February 2007

Alan Simpson (Nottingham South, Labour): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the implications of the UK’s plans for the replacement of Trident for the negotiations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty on nuclear disarmament.

Dr. Howells (Minister of State, Foreign & Commonwealth Office): The Government are strongly committed to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which is the cornerstone of the nuclear non-proliferation regime. The White Paper on the Future of the United Kingdom’s Nuclear Deterrent makes clear that renewing our minimum nuclear deterrent capability is fully consistent with all our international obligations, including under the NPT. It is also consistent with our continuing commitment to work towards a safer world in which there is no requirement for nuclear weapons.

Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty – Monday 22 January 2007

John McDonnell (Hayes & Harlington, Labour): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what (a) political, (b) legal, (c) technical and (d) procedural options her Department plans to present at the May 2007 preparatory committee meeting of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to implement article six of the treaty; and if she will make a statement.

Dr. Howells (Minister of State, Foreign & Commonwealth Office): The Government are strongly committed to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which is the cornerstone of the nuclear non-proliferation regime. The UK is determined to make every effort to ensure that this review cycle results in a positive and substantive final document at the 2010 review conference that moves forward all aspects of treaty implementation, including disarmament. We will work with allies and EU partners over the coming weeks and at the May 2007 NPT preparatory committee to lay the groundwork for this. We believe we have already made a contribution by announcing, in the White Paper on the Future of the UK’s Nuclear Deterrent, a further 20 per cent. cut in our warhead stockpile.

Weapons of Mass Destruction – Tuesday 16 January 2007

Angus Robertson (Spokesperson (Europe; Defence; International Development); Moray, Scottish National Party): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission’s report Weapons of Terror Freeing the World of Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Arms, with particular reference to (a) nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation and (b) the role of the Non-Proliferation Treaty structure and the comprehensive test ban treaty in disarmament and non-proliferation; and if she will make a statement.

Dr. Howells (Minister of State, Foreign & Commonwealth Office): I was grateful to Hans Blix and the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission for their thoughtful work in producing this report. Some of the Commission’s recommendations on non-proliferation and disarmament have great merit, e.g. on Comprehensive Safeguards and the Additional Protocol. But not all remain relevant (e.g. on North Korea and Iran where recent UN Security Council Resolutions have changed priorities for action). I do not believe that a change in Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty institutional arrangements will bring about substantive change in the positions of states party to the treaty. Political will drives change in these areas. The UK continues to support early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Ratification by the remaining Annex II states is key.

Nuclear Weapons – Monday 15 January 2007

Mr. Hancock (Portsmouth South, Liberal Democrat): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether she will attend the forthcoming preparatory committee meeting of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, in Geneva in May; which (a) other ministers and (b) officials will attend; and if she will make a statement.

Dr. Howells (Minister of State, Foreign & Commonwealth Office): The UK delegation to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Preparatory Committee in Vienna in May will be headed by Ambassador John Duncan, the United Kingdom’s Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva. He will be accompanied by officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Ministry of Defence and the Department of Trade and Industry. No decision has yet been made on Ministerial attendance. I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave him today (UIN 115555).