*9 Jun 2008 : Column 3W*
*Mr. Dai Davies:* 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:* 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.