Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Written Answer, Iran – Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, 5 Dec 2013

Nigel Dodds (Shadow Spokesperson (Justice); Belfast North, DUP)
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions Ministers in his Department have held with Israeli ministers since the announcement of the Iran nuclear agreement; and if he will make a statement.

Hugh Robertson (Minister of State; Faversham and Mid Kent, Conservative)
Since 24 November, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), has had discussions with the Israeli Minister for Strategic and Intelligence Affairs.

Iran, Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 3 Dec 2013

John Leech (Manchester, Withington, Liberal Democrat)
What assessment he has made of recent developments in the UK’s relations with Iran.

William Hague (The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs; Richmond (Yorks), Conservative)
We are upgrading our bilateral relations on a step-by-step basis, including through the appointment of non-resident chargés d’affaires, direct contact between the Prime Minister and President Rouhani, and meetings between officials. Our dialogue with Iran has covered bilateral relations, the nuclear issue and Syria.

John Leech (Manchester, Withington, Liberal Democrat)
I thank the Foreign Secretary for that answer. While I welcome all efforts to improve relations with Iran to encourage peace and stability in the whole region, will he assure me that we will continue to take a tough stance on the treatment of opposition groups and minorities by the Iranian authorities?

William Hague (The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs; Richmond (Yorks), Conservative)
Absolutely. I can readily give that guarantee. We have clearly made progress on the nuclear issue, with the interim agreement we have concluded, and are stepping up bilateral relations, but that in no way inhibits us from expressing our views on human rights. Iran continues to have one of the worst human rights records in the world for the treatment of journalists and minors, and for the continued house arrest of key opposition leaders. We will always feel free to raise those issues with Iranian leaders.

Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North, Labour)
May I take the Foreign Secretary back to his favourite subject, a nuclear weapons-free middle east? That has now become a greater possibility with an interim agreement with Iran. Will he update us on progress on a conference that would include Israel, which of course is the only country in the region that has declared nuclear weapons?

William Hague (The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs; Richmond (Yorks), Conservative)
I do not have an update beyond the one I gave the hon. Gentleman a couple of weeks ago, but I will keep in touch with him as he is extremely assiduous on this matter. I agree with his assessment that the interim deal achieved with Iran on the nuclear issue reinforces the case for, and brings closer, a conference for which he has long campaigned and which the United Kingdom would like to see.

James Morris (Halesowen and Rowley Regis, Conservative)
Iran, through its proxy Hezbollah, continues to support the brutal Assad regime. What leverage can the Foreign Secretary bring to bear on Iran’s role in Syria? Would President Rouhani’s recent move towards peace not have more credibility if he took a much more constructive role in attempting to resolve the conflict in Syria?

William Hague (The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs; Richmond (Yorks), Conservative)
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Iran continues to play a role in Syria that in our view perpetuates the conflict and contributes to the appalling human rights abuses and oppression by the Assad regime. There have so far not been wider changes in Iran’s foreign policy, alongside the nuclear deal that we have concluded. We will of course press for those changes. Our non-resident chargé d’affaires is today making his first visit to Iran and discussion on Syria will be included on the agenda.

Ian Lucas (Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs); Wrexham, Labour)
Following on from the Foreign Secretary’s answer, what is his assessment of the prospect of Iran accepting the terms of the 30 June Geneva final communiqué and participating in the Geneva II talks on 22 January?

William Hague (The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs; Richmond (Yorks), Conservative)
That is an important question, and one that I put to the Iranian Foreign Minister. We think it should be possible for all nations to work on Syria together, on the basis of the Geneva I communiqué. I have said to the Iranians that if they were able to do that, then many countries, including the UK, would be more favourable to their inclusion in future international discussions. While they have not ruled that out, they have yet not committed to it. We will continue to press them to do so.

Written Answer, Iran and France – Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, 2 Dec 2013

Paul Flynn (Newport West, Labour)
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the (a) Iranian and (b) French delegation during the most recent P5+1 meeting with Iran in Geneva about the joint Iranian-French involvement in the uranium enrichment consortium Sofidif.

Hugh Robertson (Minister of State; Faversham and Mid Kent, Conservative)
Neither Sofidif nor Eurodif were discussed with either the French or Iranian delegations at the recent nuclear negotiations in Geneva. Discussions focussed solely on securing a first stage agreement between the E3+3 and Iran which addresses our most important concerns about the Iranian nuclear programme.

Written Answers, Iran – Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, 2 Dec 2013

William McCrea (Shadow Spokesperson (Justice); South Antrim, DUP)
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the existence of secret nuclear testing facilities in Iran.

Hugh Robertson (Minister of State; Faversham and Mid Kent, Conservative)
I am aware of recent press reports about the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI’s) allegations that a complex of tunnels near Mobarekeh in Iran is a secret nuclear site, including allegations that it was a ‘nuclear bomb test site’. The location of the named site, in a functioning military establishment, and its proximity to a major city means that we assess it is unlikely that it is used for nuclear weapon testing. It is not clear whether the named facility is used for other nuclear-related purposes.

Written Answer, Nuclear Disarmament- Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, 2 Dec 2013

Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North, Labour)
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the work of the Open-ended working group on nuclear disarmament.

Hugh Robertson (Minister of State; Faversham and Mid Kent, Conservative)
I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by the Senior Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, my right hon. and noble Friend the Baroness Warsi, in the other place on 15 July 2013, Hansard, column WA93.

Written Answers, Trident Submarines – Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, 2 Dec 2013

Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North, Labour)
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

(1) what discussions were held by his Department on the replacement of the Trident submarines at the recent High Level Meeting on nuclear disarmament at the UN;

(2) what discussions were held by his Department on the replacement of the Trident submarines at the recent UN General Assembly First Committee.

Hugh Robertson (Minister of State; Faversham and Mid Kent, Conservative)
No discussions were held by my Department at the UN General Assembly First Committee or at the UN High Level Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament on the subject of the UK’s planned replacement of its Vanguard class submarines. Maintaining the UK’s nuclear deterrent beyond the life of the current system is fully consistent with our obligations as a recognised nuclear weapon state under the treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Written Answer, Nuclear Weapons – Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, 2 Dec 2013

Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North, Labour)
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the statement on the humanitarian consequences of the use of nuclear weapons at the UN General Assembly First Committee.

Hugh Robertson (Minister of State; Faversham and Mid Kent, Conservative)
A number of member states, including the UK, delivered statements on the humanitarian consequences of the use of nuclear weapons at the UN General Assembly First Committee.

We share the concern over the humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons, expressed by nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) states parties at the 2010 review conference. The UK continues to attach the greatest importance to avoiding the use of nuclear weapons, and supports and participates in a range of efforts to increase international resilience to the threat of nuclear terrorism.

We are concerned that some efforts under the humanitarian initiative appear increasingly aimed at negotiating a nuclear weapons convention prohibiting the possession of nuclear weapons, outside existing processes. The UK believes that any attempts to establish a new conference or body to discuss such approaches risk undermining the full implementation of all three pillars of the NPT, which must remain our priority.

Oral Answers to Questions – Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: Iran (Nuclear Capability) – 29 October 2013

Philip Hollobone (Kettering, Conservative)
What recent assessment he has made of how close Iran is to producing (a) sufficient weapons-grade nuclear materials to make a nuclear warhead and (b) a ballistic missile capable of delivering such a warhead to Tel Aviv or Riyadh.

William Hague (Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs; Richmond (Yorks), Conservative)
Iran continues to enrich uranium to 20% and to expand its capacity for enrichment. This brings Iran much closer to having sufficient material for a nuclear device, should it decide to enrich further. Most large middle eastern cities and some major cities in Europe are within range of Iran’s several hundred medium-range ballistic missiles.

Philip Hollobone (Kettering, Conservative)
Clearly, enriching uranium beyond the 3.5% required for civilian use sends a very dangerous signal. Is not Iran’s apparent enthusiasm for talks nothing but a protective smokescreen to dissuade the Israelis from undertaking military engagement and to allow Iran to cross the nuclear finishing line and develop a nuclear warhead?

William Hague (Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs; Richmond (Yorks), Conservative)
I believe we have to test to the full Iran’s willingness to negotiate and to come to an agreement with the international community on its nuclear programme. The programme continues: Iran claims that its 20% enriched uranium is fuel for its one small research reactor, but it already has enough enriched uranium to fuel that reactor for the next 10 years. That is why we argue that there is no plausible peaceful explanation for the continuation of enrichment and of many features of Iran’s programme. But we must test Iran’s willingness to negotiate, and we continue to do so.

Andrew Gwynne (Denton and Reddish, Labour)
But is not one of the dangers of Iran pursuing this nuclear ambition that it could empower some of the terrorist organisations that Iran sponsors around the world, and particularly in the middle east? Does not that further undermine the process of peace in that region?

William Hague (Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs; Richmond (Yorks), Conservative)
Yes, it absolutely undermines the process of peace. The threat of nuclear proliferation in the middle east, which is what the Iranian nuclear programme presents to the world, is of course a major danger to the future of the middle east, just as we are trying to make progress in the middle east peace process and to bring together a peace conference on Syria. It is deeply unhelpful across the board.

John Baron (Basildon and Billericay, Conservative)
Given that reciprocity has been a sticking point in previous nuclear talks with Iran, with, perhaps, opportunities missed by both sides, what thought has been given by the west to making a gesture of good will as a first move, perhaps with a relief of sanctions—time-limited if necessary—given that such a move might reinforce the hand of the moderates within the country?

William Hague (Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs; Richmond (Yorks), Conservative)
Substantive changes in our policy on sanctions will require substantive changes in Iran’s nuclear programme, of course. Negotiations took place in Geneva on 15 and 16 October and a further round of such negotiations is now planned for 7 and 8 November, the end of next week. We welcome the improved tone and posture of Iran in those serious negotiations, but it will have to take serious and real steps for us to be able to reciprocate.

Written Answers – Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: Russia- 17 October 2013

Julian Lewis (New Forest East, Conservative)
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of whether any of its new ballistic missile systems have put Russia in breach of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty; and if he will make a statement.

Hugh Robertson (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport; Faversham and Mid Kent, Conservative)
The 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty is a bilateral treaty between the USA and the former Soviet Union, and any determination of whether or not it has been breached is a matter for the parties. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has not made an assessment on whether Russia is in breach of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty

Written Answers – Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: Iran – 17 October 2013

Philip Hollobone (Kettering, Conservative)
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of reports that Iran is producing plutonium at its Arak facility.

Hugh Robertson (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport; Faversham and Mid Kent, Conservative)
I am not aware of such reports. Although Iran continues construction of a Heavy Water Research Reactor at Arak—in contravention of its UN Security Council obligations—the IAEA’s August report made clear the facility is not yet operational. If it becomes operational, this reactor could produce Plutonium that could be reprocessed for use in a future nuclear device.

Written Answers – Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: Iran – 22 October 2013

Michael Ellis (Northampton North, Conservative)
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

(1) what recent assessment he has made of activity in the Parchin military facility in Iran;

(2) what assessment he has made of the ability of International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors to access the Parchin military facility in Iran.

Hugh Robertson (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport; Faversham and Mid Kent, Conservative)
In 2012 the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) identified the site of an explosives chamber at Parchin where it had reason to believe work relevant to the development of nuclear weapons may have been undertaken by Iran. Iran denied the IAEA’s request for access and has since undertaken extensive sanitisation activities at the site. The IAEA assessed that this will have “seriously undermined” their efforts to verify what Iran had been doing there.

Written Answers – Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: Israel – 04 September 2013

Henry Bellingham (North West Norfolk, Conservative)
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the likelihood of the Government of Israel having a nuclear weapons programme; and if he will make a statement.

Alistair Burt (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Afghanistan/South Asia, counter terrorism/proliferation, North America, Middle East and North Africa), Foreign and Commonwealth Office; North East Bedfordshire, Conservative)
We have regular discussions with the Government of Israel on a wide range of nuclear-related issues. Israel has not declared a nuclear weapons programme. We encourage Israel to sign up to the non-proliferation treaty and call on them to agree a Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Written Answers – Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: Iran – 02 September 2013

Guto Bebb (Aberconwy, Conservative)
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many representations he has received on Iran’s nuclear programme in the last year.

Alistair Burt (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Afghanistan/South Asia, counter terrorism/proliferation, North America, Middle East and North Africa), Foreign and Commonwealth Office; North East Bedfordshire, Conservative)
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has received 33 inquiries about the state of Iran’s nuclear programme during the last year, in addition to the frequent discussions of Iran’s nuclear programme that take place in the course of regular diplomatic engagement. The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), set out the UK’s assessment of Iran’s nuclear programme in his evidence to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee on 16 July 2013.

Written Answers – Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: China – 10 July 2013

Frank Roy (Motherwell and Wishaw, Labour)
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what positive results have resulted from the UK-China strategic dialogue in recent months.

Hugo Swire (East Devon, Conservative)
The last Strategic Dialogue, held in September 2011 with State Councillor Dai Bingguo, agreed three priority areas for international co-operation: climate change; development; and counter proliferation. We have achieved positive results in each of these areas.

In the area of climate change our projects are helping China reduce the energy intensity of its economy and encourage the transition to cleaner energy sources. A recent example of such a project has been our collaboration to help the Chinese Government develop a version of the UK 2050 Energy Pathways Calculator.

Development co-operation with China has been advanced by the Department for International Development’s Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Chinese Government. The MoU has helped advance joint work in countries such as Uganda and Malawi, and sectors such as health, agriculture and disaster risk reduction.

On counter proliferation, China has agreed to host the next meeting of the P5 to discuss disarmament, and is leading development of the P5 glossary of key nuclear terms, which the P5 intend to submit to the 2015 NPT Review Conference. China played a constructive role during negotiation of the Arms Trade Treaty, and is now considering signing. FCO officials regularly discuss a range of other non-proliferation issues with Chinese counterparts.

Written Answers – Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: Iran – 27 June 2013

Stephen Phillips (Sleaford and North Hykeham, Conservative)
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of sanctions against Iranian oil and gas companies.

Alistair Burt (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Afghanistan/South Asia, counter terrorism/proliferation, North America, Middle East and North Africa), Foreign and Commonwealth Office; North East Bedfordshire, Conservative)
The EU has taken significant steps to prevent Iran using its energy revenues to fund its nuclear programme. This includes a ban on the import of Iranian oil and gas, and designation of Iran’s key energy companies and their subsidiaries, as well as energy ministries. As a result of EU and other international sanctions, Iranian oil revenues have been cut by more than half from 2011 levels, and access to those revenues is highly constrained. Sanctions have played an important part in bringing Iran to the negotiating table.

Written Answers – Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty – 17 June 2013

Paul Flynn (Newport West, Labour) To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which states which are signatories of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and were present at the recent NPT Preparatory Committee meeting in Geneva raised concerns about (a) the continued possession by the P5 of nuclear weapons, (b) the lack of progress towards nuclear disarmament by the P5 and (c) the current plans of the Government to renew Trident; and what response was made by the UK representative to any such criticisms.

Alistair Burt (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Afghanistan/South Asia, counter terrorism/proliferation, North America, Middle East and North Africa), Foreign and Commonwealth Office; North East Bedfordshire, Conservative)
The Chairman’s factual summary (UN document: NPT/CONF.2015/PC.II/CRP.2) at the recent Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Preparatory Committee held in Geneva covers the issues raised by particular member states including the continued possession of nuclear weapons as well as progress on multilateral disarmament. Iran was the only state to issue a statement directly critical of the UK’s decision to renew the submarine delivery platform used for its nuclear deterrent (“Trident”). The UK has a strong record on nuclear disarmament and has been very transparent about its nuclear capabilities and the limited and discreet role they play in its Defence policy. The Government’s policy is to have the minimum credible deterrent. The use of nuclear weapons would be considered only in extreme circumstances of self-defence, including the defence of our NATO allies. The Government announced in 2010 a new, stronger security assurance: that the UK “will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states parties to the NPT”. This assurance, however, does not apply to any state “in material breach” of its nonproliferation obligations.

The UK’s statement on disarmament issued at the Preparatory Committee sets out our policy on these issues and the rationale for maintaining the minimum credible deterrent. The statement can be accessed on the UN website:

http://papersmart.unmeetings.org/media/1516491/9_United _Kingdom_Clust_1_24_Apr_P.M..pdf

Written Answers – Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: Israel – 8 July 2013

Bob Russell (Colchester, Liberal Democrat)
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimate he has made of the number of nuclear warheads possessed by Israel; and if he will make a statement.

Alistair Burt (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Afghanistan/South Asia, counter terrorism/proliferation, North America, Middle East and North Africa), Foreign and Commonwealth Office; North East Bedfordshire, Conservative)
We have regular discussions with the Government of Israel on a wide range of nuclear-related issues. Israel has not declared a nuclear weapons programme. We encourage Israel to sign up to the non-proliferation treaty and call on them to agree a Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Written Answers – Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: India – 1 July June 2013

Paul Flynn (Newport West, Labour)
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs for what reasons the UK is advocating that India as a non-signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty should be admitted to the Nuclear Suppliers Group; and if he will (a) place in the Library and (b) post on his Department’s website the paper recently presented on behalf of the UK to the annual meeting of the Nuclear Suppliers Group in Prague.

Alistair Burt (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Afghanistan/South Asia, counter terrorism/proliferation, North America, Middle East and North Africa), Foreign and Commonwealth Office; North East Bedfordshire, Conservative)
The UK has long been a strong supporter of India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). The Prime Minister reiterated the UK’s support during his visit to India this year through a joint statement issued with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on 19 February 2013. That statement noted that the leaders
“agreed to work actively together to achieve India’s ambitions to join the major export control regimes”,
including the NSG. India shares our commitment to non-proliferation principles, has a good record of not proliferating to other states, and has a burgeoning civil nuclear industry; we believe that the global non-proliferation architecture would be strengthened by India’s accession to the NSG at the earliest appropriate moment. The paper the UK submitted to the 2013 NSG Plenary in June was submitted under the Group’s rule of confidentiality; it will therefore not be placed in the Library or posted on the Department’s website.

Written Answers – Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: Nuclear Weapons – 17 June 2013 

Paul Flynn (Newport West, Labour) To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions have been held between the UK and US on the renewal and extension of the US-UK Mutual Defence Agreement on Atomic Energy Matters in the last 12 months; who attended such discussions; where they were held; what matters have been agreed in such discussions to date; and what matters remain to be concluded.

Alistair Burt (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Afghanistan/South Asia, counter terrorism/proliferation, North America, Middle East and North Africa), Foreign and Commonwealth Office; North East Bedfordshire, Conservative) Aspects of the 1958 US-UK Mutual Defence Agreement on Atomic Energy Matters are time-limited. The next amendment by both the UK and the US governments is due in 2014. Both governments will take forward the amendment in line with their own domestic processes and requirements. UK and US officials routinely share information on their respective processes and requirements to facilitate renewal.

Written Answers – Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: Redundancy – 13 June 2013

Jim Murphy (East Renfrewshire, Labour) To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many employees of his Department who have worked on the Government’s nuclear policy have been made redundant since 2010.

Andrew Murrison (South West Wiltshire, Conservative) No Ministry of Defence officials working on nuclear policy have either been made redundant, or left under the Voluntary Early Release Scheme (VERS) since 2010. It is Government policy not to release Nuclear Suitably Qualified and Experienced Personnel. Details of officials who have left the Department under VERS and have worked in the nuclear policy area at any point in their career are not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Jim Murphy (East Renfrewshire, Labour) To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many employees of his Department who have worked on the Government’s nuclear policy have been made redundant since 2010.

Alistair Burt (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Afghanistan/South Asia, counter terrorism/proliferation, North America, Middle East and North Africa), Foreign and Commonwealth Office; North East Bedfordshire, Conservative) No UK-based members of staff who worked on nuclear policy have been made redundant. We cannot confirm the position for locally-engaged members of staff overseas as this would involve contacting every overseas post and would incur disproportionate cost.

Written Ministerial Statements – Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: FCO Spending 2013-14 – 11 June 2013 

William Hague (Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs; Richmond (Yorks), Conservative) In my statement to the House of 10 July 2012, Hansard, column 16WS, I set out the funding allocations for the FCO’s strategic programmes for the financial year 2012-13. I now wish to inform the House of the FCO’s spending plans for financial year 2013-14, together with further information on how we will deploy the funds effectively

In the area of security, we will target our activity on areas such as aviation and maritime security and building counter-terrorism capacity in key countries to strengthen their ability to detect and disrupt threats while protecting human rights. We will also continue to support counter-proliferation work, including through strengthening the international rules-based system that underpins our efforts. We will continue to be engaged in Afghanistan on law enforcement, security, governance, rule of law and democracy; working closely with Afghan partners to ensure UK-funded projects are sustained in the long term.

Written Answers – Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: Mexico – 10 June 2013

Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North, Labour) To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the Government of Mexico on participation in the planned humanitarian effects of war conference; and if he will make a statement.

Alistair Burt (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Afghanistan/South Asia, counter terrorism/proliferation, North America, Middle East and North Africa), Foreign and Commonwealth Office; North East Bedfordshire, Conservative) Officials from our embassy in Mexico City held discussions on this subject with Mexican officials on 31 May 2013. We were informed that the Mexican Government planned to host a conference in early 2014, with a focus on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons. Officials will continue to meet with their Mexican counterparts to discuss their plans as they develop.

Written Ministerial Statements – Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: Foreign Affairs/Development Foreign Affairs Councils –  21 May 2013

David Lidington (Minister of State (Europe and NATO), Foreign and Commonwealth Office; Aylesbury, Conservative) My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs will attend the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) on 27 May and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development will attend the Development Foreign Affairs Council on 28 May. These meetings will be held in Brussels, and will be chaired by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Baroness Ashton of Upholland.

Foreign Affairs Council

Syria: On Syria, Ministers will discuss the regional ramifications of the crisis and the prospects for the Geneva II talks. We will seek agreement to amend the arms embargo to allow EU countries the flexibility to provide greater support to the moderate opposition, including a broader range of military equipment.

Common Security and Defence Policy

Ministers will discuss preparations for the December European Council discussion on defence, with a focus on the first of the three taskings agreed at the December 2012 European Council. These taskings were to increase the effectiveness of the common security and defence policy (CSDP); enhance EU capabilities; and strengthen the European defence industrial base. We will encourage the discussion on the first tasking to focus on practical measures that improve cost-effectiveness of the EU’s civilian and military missions and operations and deliver more effect on the ground, while continuing to ensure complementarity with NATO.

Middle East Peace Process

This is the first discussion of MEPP since the February FAC, at which EU Ministers addressed the deteriorating prospects for a two-state solution, and the importance of engaging the US. This discussion will be an opportunity to agree the focus of EU policy and engagement on the MEPP for the coming months. The UK will focus on how the EU can contribute actively, alongside other regional and international partners, to efforts led by the United States to drive progress on the MEPP. This will include the incentives the EU could offer the parties to reach a negotiated solution. The UK will reiterate the importance of predictable, sufficient support for the PA and its institutions, as well as support for efforts to reinvigorate the Palestinian private sector.

Iran E3+3

Baroness Ashton is expected to update Ministers on the latest progress on E3+3 nuclear talks with Iran, including her meeting with the Iranian chief negotiator Jalili in Istanbul on 15 May. No discussion is expected.

Mali: Baroness Ashton is expected to update Ministers on the latest progress in Mali, including on the progress made at the donors’ conference which took place in Brussels on 15 May. Discussion is expected to be limited.

Somalia: The Foreign Secretary will brief colleagues on the 7 May London conference, and will look ahead to the September Brussels conference.

Development Foreign Affairs Council

Council Conclusions to be adopted by the Council. We expect Ministers to adopt Council conclusions on the annual report 2013 to the European Council on EU development aid targets, the EU approach to resilience: learning from food security crises, and food and nutrition security in external assistance. The Government welcome these conclusions. Post-2015 Millennium Development Goals Framework and Rio +20 Follow-up. This will be the main item for discussion. Ministers will debate the EU approach to the post-2015 development agenda and Rio+20 follow up. Council conclusions are expected to be adopted in June.

Increasing the impact of EU Development Policy: an Agenda for Change

The Commission and European external action service will give an update on the implementation of this policy and anticipated process for delivery in the next programming period (2014-2020).

Information Points

There will be information points on food and nutrition security, member states’ 2012 overseas development assistance (ODA) figures. Policy coherence for development, the 11th European development fund and local authorities.

Written Ministerial Statements – Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: Nuclear Disarmament and Non-Proliferation – 21 May 2013

Alistair Burt (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Afghanistan/South Asia, counter terrorism/proliferation, North America, Middle East and North Africa), Foreign and Commonwealth Office; North East Bedfordshire, Conservative) I would like to update the House on the outcome of the recent conference of the five nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) nuclear weapon states (the “P5”). The conference, hosted by Russia, took place on 18-19 April in Geneva. P5 conferences play a vital role in building the mutual understanding and trust needed to help the P5 take forward our shared NPT commitments. This was the fourth such conference that has brought together senior policy officials, military staff and nuclear scientists from all five NPT nuclear weapon states to discuss issues across the three pillars of the NPT. It follows on from conferences in London (September 2009), Paris (June 2011), and Washington (June 2012). The P5 conferences are an important part of the international dialogue on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, demonstrating a shared determination to make progress on the commitments set out in the 2010 NPT action plan.

The P5 issued the following statement after the meeting: “The five Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) nuclear-weapon states, or “P5”, met in Geneva on April 18-19, 2013 under the chairmanship of the Russian Federation, to build on the 2009 London, 2011 Paris and 2012 Washington P5 conferences. The P5 reviewed progress towards fulfilling the commitments made at the 2010 NPT Review Conference, and continued discussions on issues related to all three pillars of the NPT—non-proliferation, the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and disarmament, including confidence-building, transparency, and verification experiences. The P5 also had a positive exchange with representatives of civil society during the Geneva P5 Conference. The P5 reaffirmed their commitment to the shared goal of nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament as provided for in Article VI of the NPT and emphasized the importance of continuing to work together in implementing the 2010 NPT Review Conference Action Plan. The P5 reviewed the outcome of the 2012 Preparatory Committee for the 2015 NPT Review Conference, and significant developments in the context of the NPT since the 2012 Washington P5 Conference. They assessed issues relating to strategic stability and international security, and exchanged views concerning prospects for further steps to promote dialogue and mutual confidence in this area, including in a multilateral format. In addition the P5 welcomed a briefing by the Russian Federation and the United States on the ongoing implementation of the New START Treaty and its success to date. The P5 were also briefed by the Russian Federation and the United States on the joint 2012 inspection in Antarctica conducted pursuant to the Antarctic Treaty of 1959 and its Environmental Protocol. This joint inspection included verification that the international stations are implementing relevant environmental rules and that facilities are used only for peaceful purposes. The P5 shared views on objectives for the 2013 Preparatory Committee, the inter-sessional period thereafter, and looked ahead to the 2014 Preparatory Committee and 2015 Review Conference.

The P5 discussed the latest developments in the area of multilateral disarmament initiatives including the situation at the Conference on Disarmament. They expressed their shared disappointment that the Conference on Disarmament continues to be prevented from agreeing on a comprehensive program of work, including work on a legally binding, verifiable international ban on the production of fissile material (FMCT) for use in nuclear weapons, and discussed efforts to find a way forward in the Conference on Disarmament, including by continuing their efforts with other relevant partners to promote such negotiations within the CD. The P5 reiterated their support for the immediate start of negotiations on a treaty encompassing such a ban in the Conference on Disarmament. They noted the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on FMCT, and expressed the hope that its work will help spur negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament. The P5 reaffirmed the historic contribution of the pragmatic, step-by-step process to nuclear disarmament and stressed the continued validity of this proven route. In this context, they also emphasized their shared understanding of the serious consequences of nuclear weapon use and that the P5 would continue to give the highest priority to avoiding such contingencies.

The P5 advanced their previous discussions of an approach to reporting on their relevant activities across all three pillars of the NPT Action Plan at the 2014 NPT Preparatory Committee Meeting, consistent with the NPT Action Plan, and resolved to continue working on this issue under France’s leadership. They plan to continue their discussions in multiple ways within the P5, with a view to reporting to the 2014 PrepCom, consistent with their commitments under Actions 5, 20, and 21 of the 2010 RevCon Final Document. They welcomed the progress made on the development of the P5 glossary of key nuclear terms under China’s leadership and discussed next steps. They stressed the importance of this work, which will increase P5 mutual understanding and facilitate further P5 discussions on nuclear matters. The P5 reaffirmed their objective to submit a P5 glossary of key nuclear terms to the 2015 NPT Review Conference. The P5 are working toward the establishment of a firm foundation for mutual confidence and further disarmament efforts. They shared further information on their respective bilateral and multilateral experiences in verification and resolved to continue such exchanges. The P5 recalled their Joint Statement of 3 May 2012 at the Preparatory Committee of the NPT Review Conference and pledged to continue their efforts in different formats and at various international fora to find peaceful diplomatic solutions to the outstanding problems faced by the non-proliferation regime. They reiterated their call on the states concerned to fulfil without delay their international obligations under the appropriate UN Security Council resolutions, undertakings with the IAEA and other appropriate international commitments. In the context of the nuclear test conducted by the DPRK on 12 February 2013 and the continued pursuit of certain nuclear activities by Iran, both contrary to the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and IAEA Board of Governors resolutions, the P5 reaffirmed their concerns about these serious challenges to the non-proliferation regime.

The P5 underlined the fundamental importance of an effective International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards system in preventing nuclear proliferation and facilitating cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. The P5 stressed the need for strengthening IAEA safeguards including through the promotion of the universal adoption of the Additional Protocol and the development of approaches to IAEA safeguards implementation based on objective state factors. They also discussed the role of the P5 in assisting the IAEA in cases involving possible detection of nuclear weapon programs in non-nuclear weapons states (NNWS) in conformity with the provisions of the NPT. The P5 continued their previous discussions of efforts to achieve the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), and reviewed the recent UK-hosted P5 Experts Meeting on CTBT, at which the P5 identified a number of areas for future P5 collaboration and decided to pursue further inter-sessional work, in particular ahead of the Integrated Field Exercise in 2014. The P5 called upon all States to uphold their national moratoria on nuclear weapons-test explosions or any other nuclear explosions, and to refrain from acts that would defeat the object and purpose of the Treaty pending its entry into force.The P5 shared their views on how to prevent abuse of NPT withdrawal (Article X). The discussion included modalities under which NPT States Party could respond collectively and individually to a notification of withdrawal, including through arrangements regarding the disposition of equipment and materials acquired or derived under safeguards during NPT membership. They resolved to make efforts to broaden consensus among NPT States Party on the latter issue at the 2014 PrepCom, thus making a further contribution to the NPT Review Process. The P5 reiterated the importance of the implementation of the 2010 NPT Review Conference decisions related to the 1995 Resolution on the Middle East, in particular those related to the convening of a conference, to be attended by all the States of the Middle East, on the establishment of the Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction, on the basis of arrangements freely arrived at by the states of the region. They underlined their support for all States concerned making all efforts necessary for the preparation and convening of the Conference in the nearest future. They also reiterated their full support to the ongoing efforts of the facilitator.

The P5 reviewed their efforts to bring about the entry into force of the relevant legally binding protocols of nuclear-weapon-free zone treaties. They reaffirmed their view that establishment of such zones helps to build confidence between nuclear and non-nuclear weapon states, enhance regional and international security, and reinforce the NPT and the international nuclear non-proliferation regime. They reaffirmed their readiness to sign the Protocol to the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone as soon as possible. They underlined the importance of holding consultations, including on the margins of the Second PrepCom, with the States Party to the Treaty on a Nuclear Weapon-Free-Zone in Central Asia. They noted also the parallel declarations, adopted by the P5 and Mongolia, concerning Mongolia’s nuclear-weapon-free status, at the United Nations headquarters in New York on 17 September 2012.

The P5 pledged to continue to meet at all appropriate levels on nuclear issues to further promote dialogue and mutual confidence. The P5 plan to follow up their discussions and hold a fifth P5 conference in 2014.”

Written Answers — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: Iran – 24 April 2013

Ian Lucas (Wrexham, Labour) To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on Iran.

Alistair Burt (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Afghanistan/South Asia, counter terrorism/proliferation, North America, Middle East and North Africa), Foreign and Commonwealth Office; North East Bedfordshire, Conservative) The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), has a regular dialogue with the EU High Representative on a range of issues, including Iran. They most recently discussed Iran at the G8 Foreign Ministers meeting in London, on 10-11 April, where G8 Ministers reaffirmed their desire for a peaceful and negotiated resolution to the nuclear issue, and indicated that talks could not continue indefinitely.

Written Answers — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: North Korea – 24 April 2013

Paul Flynn (Newport West, Labour) To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of allegations made by North Korea defector, Hwang Jang-yop, that Iran made available the blueprints of the Urenco uranium enrichment technology to North Korea in exchange for North Korean Nodong missiles.

Alistair Burt (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Afghanistan/South Asia, counter terrorism/proliferation, North America, Middle East and North Africa), Foreign and Commonwealth Office; North East Bedfordshire, Conservative) North Korea supplies a range of conventional arms to customers worldwide and has supplied goods in support of ballistic missile programmes, including to Iran. We are unaware of any allegations made by Hwang Jang-yop of a nuclear connection between Iran and North Korea. In 2010, Hwang did report that North Korea had sold missiles to Iran, and we are aware that North Korea did indeed sell NODONG missiles to Iran in the 1990s. However, Hwang denied there had been a nuclear connection between the countries.

Written Ministerial Statements – Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: North Korea – 15 April 2013

William Hague (Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs; Richmond (Yorks), Conservative) I would like to update the House on recent developments on the Korean peninsula and the action the Government are taking in response. I am concerned by North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons and missile technology, and more recently by its frenetic and bellicose rhetoric. I am also concerned by the danger of miscalculation by the North Korean regime. The international response to this must be clear, united and calm. UN Security Council Resolution 2094, adopted on 7 March in response to the nuclear test on 12 February, was agreed by consensus. This is a strong signal of the international community’s unity and resolve. The measures in this resolution provide the international community with the enhanced means to tackle North Korea’s illicit proliferation. In addition, the resolution makes clear that the UN Security Council would take “further significant measures” in the event of another North Korean launch or nuclear test. G8 Foreign Ministers also discussed the international response to North Korea at our meeting last week. This resulted in a clear joint statement that included condemnation in the strongest possible terms of North Korea’s continued development of its nuclear and ballistic programmes, and we urged North Korea to engage in credible and authentic multilateral talks on denuclearisation. Foreign Ministers all agreed that North Korea must address these and other issues and co-operate fully with all relevant UN mechanisms. We made clear our support to the UNSCR commitment to take further significant measures in the event of a further launch or nuclear test by North Korea.

The statement of the G8 Foreign Ministers also expressed concern over the systematic and widespread human rights violations in North Korea. This echoed the agreement in the UN Human Rights Council on 21 March to establish a Commission of Inquiry on human rights abuses in North Korea. The fact that this inquiry was agreed without a vote again demonstrates the strong international consensus that North Korea cannot and should not continue on its current course. We are working to ensure all states fully implement the latest UN Security Council resolution and have been speaking to international partners about the importance of this. The UK is not a member of the six-party talks, but we will remain in close touch with the US, South Korea, China, Russia and Japan on their approach towards North Korea. I have also spoken to the South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byun-se, where I welcomed South Korea’s measured approach to the situation and confirmed that the UK will continue to support our allies in the region. In this call I stressed the importance of not responding to North Korean rhetoric. Our assessment remains that there has been no immediate increased risk or danger to those living in or travelling to either North or South Korea. We judge there is no immediate need to either change the level of our travel advice or draw down embassy staff, although we are keeping this under constant review and making regular factual updates to our travel advice. The UK played a leading role in work to agree a co-ordinated and unified response by EU member states to the 10 April deadline set by North Korea for embassies to notify them of what assistance they would require should they wish to be evacuated from North Korea. We made sure that the EU took this opportunity to remind North Korea of its international obligations on proliferation. From our discussions with other Governments we do not believe any foreign embassy in Pyongyang is currently planning to close. Our message to North Korea is clear. It has a choice, between constructive engagement with the international community, or further international action and isolation. The choice it is taking now will lead it to be a broken country, isolated from the rest of the world.

Oral Answers to Questions –Defence – Foreign and Commonwealth Office – G8 Foreign Ministers – 15 April 2013

[…]

William Hague (Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs; Richmond (Yorks), Conservative) The G8 Ministers also reviewed the threat to international security from North Korea. We condemned its aggressive rhetoric, the announcement that it would reopen the nuclear facility at Yongbyon, and its development of nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, breaching its international obligations. We urged North Korea to engage in credible and authentic multilateral talks on denuclearisation, to abide by its obligations under all relevant UN Security Council resolutions, to abandon all its weapons programmes and to refrain from further provocative acts.

All G8 Ministers were clear that North Korea’s current posture will lead only to further isolation. We emphasised our willingness to take further significant measures if North Korea conducts another missile launch or nuclear test. I discussed North Korea in detail with the Japanese Foreign Minister in the margins of the G8 and spoke to the South Korean Foreign Minister this morning. I also welcome Secretary Kerry’s visit to the region at the weekend. I have laid a written ministerial statement today on these developments and the action that the Government are taking.

The G8 also discussed the recent E3 plus 3 talks on Iran’s nuclear programme and the disappointing outcome. Tehran’s position falls short of what is needed for a diplomatic breakthrough. We will continue the twin-track approach of sanctions and negotiations, but the G8 was clear that the window for diplomacy will not remain open for ever.

[…]

Douglas Alexander (Paisley and Renfrewshire South, Labour) Finally, I should like to turn to the points made by the Foreign Secretary on the ongoing situation in the Korean peninsula. We support the agreement reached by Foreign Ministers following the G8 meeting to condemn the continued aggressive and provocative actions of the North Korean regime. Does the Foreign Secretary agree that China’s role as an historic supporter of North Korea is key to defusing the crisis, so will he join me in welcoming its constructive engagement on the issue to date?

The efforts of others will not absolve the North Koreans of their own responsibilities, so does the Foreign Secretary agree that the responsibility is now on the North Korean leadership to accept an open offer that has been extended from the international community to initiate meaningful negotiations in relation to this troubling and dangerous situation?

[…]

William Hague (Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs; Richmond (Yorks), Conservative) I agree with the thrust of the right hon. Gentleman’s questions about China and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. China’s position of agreeing to UN Security Council resolution 2094, which put additional sanctions on North Korea, is welcome. I will discuss that with the new Chinese leadership over the next couple of days to see how we can work together on it. The message should be clear, as it is from the whole House and from the whole UN Security Council: North Korea has a choice, and with the choice it is making at the moment it will end up with a country that is even more broken and even more isolated, even from China. It is not too late to make an alternative choice; the path of multilateral negotiations and greater engagement with the international community is still open.

[…]

Bernard Jenkin (Harwich and North Essex, Conservative) Will my right hon. Friend cast his mind back to the first G8 summit that he attended as Foreign Secretary? Was anybody forecasting that we would be facing a horrendous conflagration in Syria and the threat of thermonuclear war in North Korea? Does not that underline how unpredictable our current international security situation is and the fact that it is impossible for us to predict that we will not require nuclear weapons for our protection within the next 50 or 60 years?

[…]

William Hague (Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs; Richmond (Yorks), Conservative) Yes, my hon. Friend is absolutely right, particularly with regard to the attempts of the DPRK to develop nuclear weapons and ballistic missile technology. The effects of the decisions that we are making about a successor to Trident will last for decades. We have to provide for the security of this country over several decades to come, and we must therefore, absolutely, have at the forefront of our minds the fact that we cannot predict—even a few years out, as he says—the threats that we might face. We can imagine that anyone in 1913, rather than 2013, who was trying to predict the threats they would face into the 1940s would have struggled very seriously to do so

[…]

Neil Carmichael (Stroud, Conservative) The Foreign Secretary has correctly noted that North Korea should be encouraged to participate in a multilateral framework. Following Secretary Kerry’s visit to the region and the encouraging signs that emanated from his talks with the Chinese, what can the Foreign Secretary tell the House that would encourage us to think that North Korea will move in the right direction at the appropriate speed?

[…]

William Hague (Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs; Richmond (Yorks), ConservativeI have no immediate good news for my hon. Friend and the House on that matter, except for the clear unity in the G8 to which I referred. That unity extends beyond the G8 to our working closely with China. My hon. Friend referred to Secretary Kerry’s visit, during which he agreed that the United States would work with the Chinese Government. China has more leverage and influence over North Korea than any of the other nations to which we have referred. The extent of Chinese concern and determination that North Korea should not go down the path that it is on is one encouraging piece of information in an otherwise very difficult situation.

[…]

Mark Hendrick (Preston, Labour) The Foreign Secretary has commended the Chinese and referred to Secretary Kerry’s visit to China. That is positive and is in stark contrast to the position a couple of weeks ago, when the Americans, and to some extent our country, were saying that the Chinese were not doing enough with regard to North Korea. I am sure that the Foreign Secretary accepts the co-operation that is now taking place, but does he accept that if there was a major conflict on the Korean peninsula, the Chinese Government would have to deal with millions of refugees and the scale of the humanitarian disaster would make Syria look like a fairly small-scale operation?

[…]

William Hague (Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs; Richmond (Yorks), Conservative) Of course, the prospect of any conflict on the Korean peninsula would be deeply alarming to the whole world. China, as a close neighbour, would be particularly concerned. That is always a factor in China’s foreign policy calculations in such matters. I welcome China’s agreement to UN resolution 2094, because it is evidence that it sees that the avoidance of such conflict involves additional pressure on the DPRK, although in a graduated way in its view. I welcome China’s position and we will continue to work with it, including through direct discussions in the coming days.

[…]

Philip Hollobone (Kettering, Conservative) How far are the United Kingdom and the international community prepared to go to prevent North Korea and Iran from getting nuclear weapons, and is the Foreign Secretary confident of success?

[…]

William Hague (Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs; Richmond (Yorks), Conservative) We heard from our hon. Friend Mr Jenkin, who is no longer in his place, about how unpredictable world events are, and it is not wise for Foreign Secretaries to express complete confidence in a happy outcome for every single situation. I am confident, however, that the international community is united on both those issues, and given that unity it would be wholly irrational on the part of North Korea or Iran to continue down the path they are following at the moment. One cannot, of course, rule out miscalculations and sometimes irrationality, but I am at least confident that all countries that should be working together are doing so. I mentioned the unity on North Korea, and on Iran we work as the E3 plus 3, which includes all five permanent members of the Security Council, including Russia and China. There could not be stronger international unity on those subjects.

Alistair Burt (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Afghanistan/South Asia, counter terrorism/proliferation, North America, Middle East and North Africa), Foreign and Commonwealth Office; North East Bedfordshire, Conservative) After careful consideration, the Government decided not to send a representative to the conference on the ‘humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons’ in Oslo. The Government supports fully the objective of a world without nuclear weapons, and is committed to working with all nations in pursuit of this shared goal. We fully understand the serious consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and will, alongside our P5 partners, continue to give the highest priority to ensuring that such consequences are avoided. While we recognise the seriousness of this subject and attach the utmost importance to it, our main concern was that the conference in Oslo could divert discussion and focus away from the practical steps required to create the conditions for further nuclear weapons reductions. We believe that the practical, step-by-step approach that we are taking to progress multilateral nuclear disarmament through existing mechanisms, such as the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) and Conference on Disarmament, have proven to be the most effective means to increase stability and reduce nuclear dangers. We will therefore continue to work together with our P5 colleagues, and non nuclear weapons states, toward strengthening the foundation for mutual confidence and further disarmament efforts.

Oral Answers to Questions – Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – Iran – 15 April 2013

John Spellar (Warley, Labour) To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment has his Department made of the effect of recent decisions by the European Court of Justice on the sanctions regime against Iran.

Alistair Burt (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Afghanistan/South Asia, counter terrorism/proliferation, North America, Middle East and North Africa), Foreign and Commonwealth Office; North East Bedfordshire, Conservative) The UK., and its EU partners, continue to believe that robust and principled measures must be taken against entities and individuals providing support to Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missiles programmes. We firmly believe that there remains a case to answer in the EU General Court cases concerning Banks Mellat and Saderat. We welcome, and support, the unanimous decision of the EU member states to appeal in those cases. Asset freezes against these, and all other entities designated under the EU Iran sanctions regime, remain in place.

Written Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – Nuclear Proliferation – 6 March 2013

Martin Caton (Gower, Labour): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will call for an international ban on weapons that can set and engage targets without further intervention from human operators once activated.

Alistair Burt (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Afghanistan/South Asia, counter terrorism/proliferation, North America, Middle East and North Africa), Foreign and Commonwealth Office; North East Bedfordshire, Conservative): The use of weapons that can set and engage targets without further intervention from human operators once activated is governed by international humanitarian law as enshrined in the Geneva conventions and their additional protocols. The Government is strongly committed to upholding the Geneva conventions and encouraging others to do the same. The Government considers that the existing provisions of international humanitarian law are sufficient to regulate the use of these weapons and therefore we have no plans to call for an international ban. However, we remain firmly committed to their effective control.

Written Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – Nuclear Weapons – 6 March 2013

Martin Caton (Gower, Labour): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the Government will be represented at the conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons in Oslo on 4 and 5 March 2013.

Alistair Burt (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Afghanistan/South Asia, counter terrorism/proliferation, North America, Middle East and North Africa), Foreign and Commonwealth Office; North East Bedfordshire, Conservative): After careful consideration, the Government, and the other P5 states, will not be sending a representative to the conference on the “humanitarian consequences of Nuclear Weapons” in Oslo.

The Government supports fully the objective of a world without nuclear weapons and is committed to working with all nations in pursuit of this shared goal. We fully understand the serious consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and will, alongside our P5 partners, continue to give the highest priority to ensuring that such consequences are avoided. Whilst we recognise the seriousness of this subject and attach the utmost importance to it, we are concerned that the conference in Oslo will divert discussion and focus away from the practical steps required to create the conditions for further nuclear weapons reductions. We believe that the practical, step-by-step approach that we are taking to progress multilateral nuclear disarmament through existing mechanisms such as the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and conference on disarmament, have proven to be the most effective means to increase stability and reduce nuclear dangers. We will therefore continue to work together with our P5 colleagues, and non nuclear weapon states, toward strengthening the foundation for mutual confidence and further disarmament efforts. We remain committed to working through existing fora, including this year’s NPT Preparatory Committee in April, to discuss the issues raised through the conference in Oslo and to explore what further progress we can make by working together to achieve our ultimate goal of a world without nuclear weapons.

Written Answers – Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: North Korea – 5 Mar 2013

Mel Stride (Central Devon, Conservative) To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the Government are taking in response to North Korea’s recent nuclear test.

Hugo Swire (East Devon, Conservative) We are currently working with partners in the UN Security Council to agree a robust response to North Korea’s nuclear test; just as we secured following North Korea’s recent ‘satellite’ launch. I also summoned the North Korean ambassador, to the FCO last month to express the UK’s strong condemnation of the test. And we are working with EU partners on strengthening the EU’s sanctions regime on the DPRK.

Written Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – Nuclear Weapons – 4 March 2013

Paul Flynn (Newport West, Labour): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representation his Department plans to have at the forthcoming Conference on the Consequences of Nuclear Weapon Use in Oslo on 4 and 5 March, organised by the Norwegian Foreign Minister; and if he will arrange to (a) place in the Library and (b) post on his departmental web site (i) any submissions to the conference made by the UK and (ii) any submissions made that make reference to UK policy. [145338]

Alistair Burt (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Afghanistan/South Asia, counter terrorism/proliferation, North America, Middle East and North Africa), Foreign and Commonwealth Office; North East Bedfordshire, Conservative): After careful consideration, the Government will not be sending a representative to the conference on the ‘humanitarian consequences of Nuclear Weapons’ in Oslo.

The Government supports fully the objective of a world without nuclear weapons, and is committed to working with all nations in pursuit of this shared goal. We fully understand the serious consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and will, alongside our P5 partners, continue to give the highest priority to ensuring that such consequences are avoided. While we recognise the seriousness of this subject and attach the utmost importance to it, we are concerned that the conference in Oslo will divert discussion and focus away from the practical steps required to create the conditions for further nuclear weapons reductions. We believe that the practical, step-by-step approach that we are taking to progress multilateral nuclear disarmament through existing mechanisms such as the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and Conference on Disarmament, have proven to be the most effective means to increase stability and reduce nuclear dangers. We will therefore continue to work together with our P5 colleagues, and non nuclear weapon states, toward strengthening the foundation for mutual confidence and further disarmament efforts.

The Government has not made any submissions to the conference and has not, to date, received any submissions made by other parties to the conference.

Written Answers – Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: Nuclear Weapons: Proliferation – 27 Feb 2013

Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North, Labour) To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress there has been ahead of the Non-Proliferation Treaty Preparatory Committee on the proposed WMD-Free Middle East Conference.

Alistair Burt (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Afghanistan/South Asia, counter terrorism/proliferation, North America, Middle East and North Africa), Foreign and Commonwealth Office; North East Bedfordshire, Conservative) The Government supports the objectives of a middle east weapons of mass destruction (WMD) free zone, and the convening of a conference as soon as possible. In 2011, the co-convenors selected Finland as the designated host country for the Middle East WMD Free Zone Conference, and appointed Finnish Under-Secretary, Jaakko Laajava, as facilitator for the conference. Since then, the co-convenors have regularly met with the facilitator and the states of the region to discuss progress towards the conference. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Ministers discussed the conference with counterparts in the middle east, and our officials travelled to the region to promote constructive engagement and support for the work of the facilitator. A series of civil society organised events—some funded by the FCO— have taken place, which aimed to build confidence between the key parties. On 23 November 2012 the USA announced the postponement of the conference. I made a statement on 24 November 2012 regretting the postponement of the conference, reiterating the UK’s commitment to convening the conference as soon as possible and its support for the facilitator. In November 2012, the facilitator wrote to the states of the region to propose multilateral consultations, currently planned for March 2013, in order to intensify the preparations for the conference. Consultations are essential to agree conference arrangements “freely arrived at by the states of the region”, according to the 2010 non-proliferation treaty mandate. On 7 February 2013, I spoke to the facilitator reiterating our support for him and the consultations, and our commitment to the process.

Written Answers – Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: Nuclear Weapons: Proliferation – 25 Feb 2013

Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North, Labour) To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which meetings his Department has held with foreign representatives regarding the proposed WMD-Free Middle East Conference (a) since the NPT Review Conference 2010 and (b) in 2013.

Alistair Burt (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Afghanistan/South Asia, counter terrorism/proliferation, North America, Middle East and North Africa), Foreign and Commonwealth Office; North East Bedfordshire, Conservative) Since the 2010 NPT Review Conference, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) officials and Ministers have engaged in regular meetings and discussions on the proposed Middle East WMD Free Zone conference with our fellow co-convenors (the US, Russia and the UN) and Jakko Laajava, the facilitator for the conference. We have also engaged regularly with officials from states of the region. The FCO Minister responsible for counter-proliferation, Alistair Burt, discussed the conference with his counterparts from the Middle East, for example with the Egyptian Foreign Minister on 18 February 2013. He has also met with the conference facilitator on numerous occasions, most recently in January 2013. FCO officials have discussed the conference in visits to the region, for example, meeting with the Arab League in Cairo in October 2012 and visiting Israel in February 2013. UK Posts in the region have also discussed the conference with their hosts on numerous occasions, including at ambassadorial level.

Written Answers – Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: Nuclear Weapons: Proliferation – 25 Feb 2013

Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North, Labour) To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had regarding support for a Nuclear Weapons Convention; and if he will make a statement.

Alistair Burt (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Afghanistan/South Asia, counter terrorism/proliferation, North America, Middle East and North Africa), Foreign and Commonwealth Office; North East Bedfordshire, Conservative) The UK is committed to the long-term goal of a world without nuclear weapons and is actively working towards creating the conditions to realise that goal. The primary means to achieve this should be through the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and specifically through the NPT Action Plan that was agreed by all NPT signatories in 2010. The UK Government believes that a Nuclear Weapons Convention could not succeed in the present international environment. Until the necessary political and security conditions are in place, we believe that attempts to establish such a convention would risk diluting international efforts around the NPT and undermining or duplicating the work of established disarmament fora, including the Conference on Disarmament. The UK’s focus at present should be on building the right environment that will make multilateral nuclear disarmament a realistic possibility. As the instigator of the inaugural P5 Conference, we are working to help build the trust and mutual confidence between states needed to achieve this. We are working with international partners to make it as hard as possible for states to develop, produce or acquire nuclear weapons. Key to this will be starting negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament towards a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty and achieving the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.

Written Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: Iran – 30 January 2013

Stephen Phillips (Sleaford and North Hykeham, Conservative)
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of financial sanctions against Iran.

Alistair Burt (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Afghanistan/South Asia, counter terrorism/proliferation, North America, Middle East and North Africa), Foreign and Commonwealth Office; North East Bedfordshire, Conservative)
Financial sanctions are restricting Iran’s ability to trade and access its foreign currency reserves. They are therefore having a significant impact on the Iranian economy, and the regime’s ability to fund its expenditure. Financial sanctions contribute significantly to the pressure on Iran to negotiate seriously with the E3+3 over its nuclear programme. They are accompanied by EU oil sanctions. Their effect has been exacerbated by the regime’s economic mismanagement.

Written Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: Iran – 29 January 2013

Nicholas Soames (Mid Sussex, Conservative)
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs in which fora and under whose auspices the Government takes part in negotiations with Iran; and on what matters.

Alistair Burt (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Afghanistan/South Asia, counter terrorism/proliferation, North America, Middle East and North Africa), Foreign and Commonwealth Office; North East Bedfordshire, Conservative)
Following the regime-sponsored attack on our embassy in Tehran in November 2011, the UK’s diplomatic relations with Iran were reduced to the lowest possible level. The UK and Iran nominated Sweden and Oman respectively, to act as protecting powers. This is the channel for bilateral business.

The UK participates actively in multilateral forums, such as the United Nations, of which Iran is also a member.

The UK is a member of the E3+3, which negotiates with Iran. These negotiations aim to find a diplomatic solution to the issue of Iran’s nuclear programme.

Written Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: Kashmir – 28 January 2013

Gregory Campbell (East Londonderry, DUP) To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will hold urgent discussions with the governments of both India and Pakistan to ensure that recent police messages in the Srinagar district to prepare for a nuclear attack do not escalate tension in the Kashmir region.

Hugo Swire (East Devon, Conservative) We are aware through media reports, of the public notice. However, we have also taken note of the subsequent comments from the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir on the notice. We therefore do not judge that discussions are required at this time.

Written Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: Nuclear Disarmament – 18 January 2013

Paul Flynn (Newport West, Labour) To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with reference to the Coalition Agreement: Programme for Government, in what ways his Department has pressed for continued progress on multilateral nuclear disarmament; and if he will set out the occasions on which British nuclear weapons have been incorporated into multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations since May 2010.

Alistair Burt (Conservative) The 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to maintaining the minimum credible nuclear deterrent and announced that we will reduce the UK’s number of operationally available warheads; reduce our overall nuclear weapons stockpile; and reduce the number of warheads on board our nuclear deterrent submarines.

In order for the UK to offer to include its small number of nuclear weapons in multilateral disarmament negotiations there would first need to be further reductions in the much larger nuclear weapons stockpiles held by other states and greater assurances that no new major threats will emerge that could threaten the UK or its vital interests. The UK is focussed on building the international environment that will make this possible.

We have maintained our strong support for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the Action Plan agreed by all NPT signatories at the 2010 NPT Review Conference. In 2009, the UK instigated the first meeting of the P5 nuclear-weapons states to discuss our disarmament commitments. This has been followed by frequent P5 dialogues, including a UK-hosted meeting to discuss progress with the groundbreaking UK-Norway Initiative on the dismantlement verification in April 2012. Discussions among P5 partners and others continue across a wide range of disarmament issues. The UK has long been a strong and vocal advocate of entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and continues to provide expert support to the Treaty’s verification regime. We also continue to press for negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut off Treaty in the Conference on Disarmament.

Written Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: Nuclear Disarmament – 15 January 2013

Paul Flynn (Newport West, Labour) To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what expert-level meetings have been hosted by the UK in the last year to share lessons from UK-led work on verification of nuclear warhead dismantlement; where the meetings were held; at what cost; which countries were represented at each such meeting; and if he will publish a summary of the outcomes of each meeting.

Alistair Burt (Conservative) The UK has hosted two expert-level meetings in the last year to share findings from the ongoing UK-Norway Initiative. The first, held in London on 4 April 2012, was attended by officials from the ‘P5’ nuclear weapon states: UK, China, France, Russia and US. The total cost of the event was £9,137.10. UK scientists and technical experts shared the outcomes and lessons from the UK-Norway Initiative and P5 experts offered their perspectives.

The second, held in Vienna in May 2012 as a side event to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Preparatory Committee meeting, was attended by around 100 experts from NPT States Parties, NGOs and academia. The cost to the UK of holding this event was £484.51. The joint presentation by technical experts from the UK and Norway is available on the Government website:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-norway-initiative-on-nuclear-warhead-dismantlement-verification–2