Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Nuclear Proliferation – Tuesday 11 November 2008

Julian Lewis (Shadow Minister, Defence; Conservative): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on future negotiations on nuclear proliferation.

Bill Rammell (Minister of State, Foreign & Commonwealth Office): We are committed to a successful Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in 2010, and will work to promote consensus around key measures to strengthen the treaty’s three pillars. These include zero tolerance of proliferation; a clear forward plan on multilateral nuclear disarmament and supporting the right to the safe, secure and peaceful use of nuclear energy.

Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty – Tuesday 11 November 2008

Mr. Dai Davies (Blaenau Gwent, Independent): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the proposal made by the Australian Government to the United Nations General Assembly First Committee on 15 October 2008 on the global non-proliferation regime in the period running up to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in 2010.

Bill Rammell (Minister of State, Foreign & Commonwealth Office): The United Kingdom shares Australia’s commitment to strengthening the non-proliferation treaty (NPT) and to a successful NPT Review Conference in 2010. The Prime Minister has written to Prime Minister Rudd welcoming the establishment of the International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament and the appointment of Baroness Williams of Crosby as a Commissioner. We share the objective of making substantive progress on nuclear non-proliferation, disarmament and peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty – Monday 6 October 2008

Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North, Labour): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what proposals his Department will put forward at the 2009 Preparatory Committee Meeting of the 2010 Review Conference on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty; and if he will make a statement.

Dr. Howells (Minister of State, Foreign & Commonwealth Office) [holding answer 17 September 2008]: The UK will work intensively with international partners before, at and after the 2009 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Preparatory Committee to identify areas of convergence that can form the basis of a successful outcome to the 2010 NPT Review Conference. In particular we will submit proposals to strengthen the NPT in all its aspects, promoting zero tolerance of proliferation, upholding the rights of all States party to the NPT to benefit from the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and reinvigorating the commitment of NPT Nuclear Weapons States to nuclear disarmament.

Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty – Tuesday 22 July 2008

Jim Cousins (Newcastle upon Tyne Central, Labour): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to propose changes to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty; and if he will make a statement.

Dr. Howells (Minister of State, Foreign & Commonwealth Office): The nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) has served the international community well. It remains the foundation of international non-proliferation efforts and a key contribution to collective peace and security. The UK does not plan to reopen the NPT for negotiation. But we are committed to a successful NPT review conference in 2010 and will work to promote consensus around key measures to strengthen the treaty’s three pillars: zero tolerance of proliferation; a clear forward plan on multilateral nuclear disarmament; and supporting the right to the safe, secure and peaceful use of nuclear energy.

Nuclear Disarmament – Monday 9 June 2008

Mr. Dai Davies (Blaenau Gwent, Independent): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with reference to the answer of 18 July 2007, Official Report, column 409W, on nuclear disarmament, what progress has been made by the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston in taking forward proposals to develop a disarmament laboratory.

Dr. Howells (Minister of State, Foreign & Commonwealth Office): The Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) is continuing to undertake research into the technical aspects of verifying multilateral nuclear disarmament. This forms part of a series of wider activities announced in June 2007 by my right hon. Friend, the then Foreign Secretary (Margaret Beckett) to make the UK a ‘Disarmament Laboratory’.

AWE’s research so far, partly in partnership with Norway and the non-governmental organisation, Verification Education, Research and Information Centre, was presented to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Preparatory Committee in Geneva in May. Although this research is expected to take a number of years, we have made a good start. For example, we are looking forward to undertaking ‘managed access’ simulation to a nuclear facility in Norway within the year.

In addition to the work being undertaken by AWE, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence (Des Browne) announced in February our offer to host a technical conference of scientists from the P5 nuclear laboratories to discuss the issues surrounding the verification of nuclear disarmament. Also, the UK is supporting a study by the International Institute of Strategic Studies into the political and technical requirements for a world free from nuclear weapons which will be published in September.

Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty – Thursday 15 May 2008

Mr. Dai Davies (Blaenau Gwent, Independent): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what proposals the Government put forward to the Preparatory Committee meeting for the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty Review Conference in 2010, held recently in Geneva; what responses were received from other national delegations at the preparatory meeting to those proposals; and if he will make a statement.

Meg Munn (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Foreign & Commonwealth Office): The Government proposed initiatives to promote consensus around the Treaty’s three pillars: non-proliferation; peaceful uses of nuclear energy; and disarmament. This included studies on the reduction and elimination of nuclear weapons and my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister’s conference on peaceful uses of nuclear energy to be held later this year. The UK also co-sponsored a paper by the US on civil nuclear energy and an EU paper on nuclear weapons free zones. These proposals were well received. Further details on these proposals can be found at:

Nuclear Disarmament – Wednesday 7 May 2008

Adam Price (Carmarthen East & Dinefwr, Plaid Cymru): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent steps have been taken by the Government towards nuclear disarmament under the terms of Article 6 of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Dr. Howells (Minister of State, Foreign & Commonwealth Office): The UK is strongly committed to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and we are fulfilling all of our Treaty obligations, including those on disarmament under Article VI. We have reduced our nuclear platform to one delivery system, Trident, and have significantly reduced the operational status of that system. We have recently met our commitment to a further 20 per cent. reduction in the stockpile of operationally available warheads, contributing to a 75 per cent. reduction in the explosive power of the UK nuclear arsenal since the end of the Cold War.

In addition the UK is pursuing a programme to develop expertise in verifying the reduction and elimination of nuclear weapons internationally. The aim of the study has been to examine and trial potential methodologies which could be used in a future multilateral nuclear disarmament regime. This work is continuing at the Atomic Weapons Establishment and will be presented to the 2008 NPT Preparatory Committee in Geneva.

Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty – Thursday 24 April 2008

Mr. Dai Davies (Blaenau Gwent, Independent): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the Government’s policy is on the steps towards nuclear disarmament agreed at the 2000 review conference on the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. [199256]

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.

Nuclear Disarmament – Monday 21 April 2008

Mr. Dai Davies (Blaenau Gwent, Independent): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has received a response from his counterparts in the five Non-Proliferation Treaty nuclear weapons states to the United Kingdom offer to host a technical conference on the verification of nuclear disarmament.

Des Browne (Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence): I have been asked to reply.

My offer to host a conference of scientists from the nuclear laboratories of the five recognised nuclear weapon states was made in a speech to the Conference on Disarmament on 5 February 2008. Since then, senior officials from the Ministry of Defence and Foreign and Commonwealth Office have written jointly to their counterparts in each of the respective capitals describing the offer in more detail. We are waiting for formal responses before making further announcements.

Nuclear Disarmament – Wednesday 27 February 2008

Dr. Gibson (Norwich North, Labour): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make it his policy to maintain staff numbers at the multilateral arms control and disarmament office of the UK permanent mission to the conference on disarmament in Geneva during the period of the UK presidency of the conference on disarmament, and in the lead-up to the 2010 review conference of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty; and if he will make a statement.

Dr. Howells (Minister of State, Foreign & Commonwealth Office): The number of staff at the multilateral arms control and disarmament office of the UK permanent mission to the conference on disarmament in Geneva will be increased by one official this summer. The staffing requirements will be kept under regular review during the period of the UK presidency of the conference on disarmament and in the lead-up to the 2010 review conference of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty – Tuesday 5 February 2008

Andrew George (St. Ives, Liberal Democrat): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what objectives he has set for the UK’s participation in the Norwegian initiative on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Dr. Howells (Minister of State, Foreign & Commonwealth Office): The United Kingdom is using its participation in the Norwegian “Seven Country Initiative”, in parallel with a wide range of other bilateral and multilateral activity, to build international consensus for strengthening the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The United Kingdom will take part in a Seminar on Nuclear Disarmament to be hosted by the Government of Norway in Oslo on 26-27 February 2008.

Nuclear Disarmament – 22 January 2008

Andrew George (St. Ives, Liberal Democrat): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what further steps the Government plan to take to secure nuclear disarmament in accordance with their commitments under Article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. [180611]

Dr. Howells (Minister of State, Foreign & Commonwealth Office): The UK has now met the commitment outlined in the 2006 White Paper on the future of the UK nuclear deterrent to reduce the number of operationally available warheads to fewer than 160. The explosive power of our nuclear arsenal has been reduced by 75 per cent. since the end of the cold war.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Margaret Beckett), then Foreign Secretary, announced in her June 2007 speech to the Carnegie Endowment that the UK would act as a “disarmament laboratory” for the thinking and practical work required to move forward global nuclear disarmament. We are supporting an independent International Institute of Strategic Studies in-depth study to help determine the requirements for the eventual elimination of all nuclear weapons. 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.

The UK continues to press for the immediate commencement of negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty, the next logical step for multilateral nuclear disarmament, at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.