Hansard on NPT January - March 2007

Categories: 

*8 Jan 2007 : Column 98W
Nuclear Disarmament*

*Nick Harvey:* To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the 13 practical steps toward nuclear disarmament referred to on page 13 of the White Paper CM6994, in respect of which of these steps progress has been made; and if he will make a statement. [108787]

*Des Browne:* We continue to support and have made progress on the “13 Practical Steps”, agreed at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in 2000, which are applicable to the UK. These are listed in 2000 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, Final Document, a copy of which is available in the Library of the House. The 13 steps are:

     1. The early entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty
     (CTBT).

     2. A nuclear testing moratorium pending entry into force of the CTBT.

     3. The immediate commencement of negotiations in the Conference on
     Disarmament on a non-discriminatory, multilateral, and effectively
     verifiable fissile material cut-off treaty. The negotiations
     should aim to be concluded within five years.

     4. The establishment in the Conference on Disarmament of a
     subsidiary body to deal with nuclear disarmament.

     5. The principle of irreversibility to apply to all nuclear
     disarmament and reduction measures.

     6. An unequivocal undertaking by nuclear-weapon states to
     eliminate their nuclear arsenals.

     7. The early entry into force and implementation of START II, the
     conclusion of START III, and the preservation and strengthening of
     the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

     8. The completion and implementation of the Trilateral Initiative
     between the United States, the Russian Federation, and the
     International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

     9. Steps by all nuclear-weapon states toward disarmament including
     unilateral nuclear reductions; transparency on weapons
     capabilities and Article Vl-related agreements; reductions in
     non-strategic nuclear weapons; measures to reduce the operational
     status of nuclear weapons; a diminishing role for nuclear weapons
     in security policies; the engagement of nuclear-weapon states as
     soon as appropriate in a process leading to complete disarmament.

     10. The placement of excess military fissile materials under IAEA
     or other international verification and the disposition of such
     material for peaceful purposes.

     11. Reaffirmation of the objective of general and complete
     disarmament under effective international control.

     12. Regular state reporting in the NPT review process on the
     implementation of Article VI obligations.

     13. The development of verification capabilities necessary to
     ensuring compliance with nuclear disarmament agreements.

We have signed and ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban treaty, continued to observe the moratorium on nuclear weapons testing, continued to press for the negotiation in the Conference on Disarmament, without preconditions, of a fissile material cut-off treaty whilst maintaining our moratorium. We have demonstrated our commitment to the irreversibility of nuclear disarmament. We continue to reiterate our unequivocal undertaking to accomplish the total elimination of our nuclear arsenal leading to nuclear disarmament and have undertaken several unilateral steps towards nuclear disarmament including reductions in warhead numbers, increased transparency by publishing historical accounting records of our defence fissile material holdings and reduced the operational status of our deterrent.

All fissile material no longer required for defence purposes is under international safeguards. We continue to reaffirm our commitment to achieving the general and complete disarmament objectives of Article VI. We report regularly in a number of different formats and fora on the progress we have made under Article VI. We have pursued a widely welcomed programme to develop UK expertise in methods and technologies that could be used to verify nuclear disarmament. Finally, we produced a series of working papers culminating in a presentation at the 2005 NPT Review Conference. The Atomic Weapons Establishment continues to undertake research in this area.

*
2 Feb 2007 : Column 550W
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty*

*Mr. Dai Davies *(Blaenau Gwent, Independent)*:* To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made on negotiations towards agreement pursuant to article 6 of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty, on nuclear disarmament measures; and what assessment he has made of the key obstacles to such negotiations. [117839]

*Des Browne *(Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence)*:* The UK is committed to progress in multilateral disarmament and plays a strong role in all the relevant international fora. We continue to press for multilateral negotiations towards mutual, balanced and verifiable reductions in nuclear weapons. The forum responsible for nuclear disarmament is the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, whose achievements include the Comprehensive Test Ban treaty, ratified by the UK in 1998. Our current priority is the early start of negotiations, without preconditions, on a Fissile Material Cut-Off treaty (FMCT). The US tabled a draft treaty text in 2006. The start of such negotiations is subject to the agreement by consensus of all states represented at the conference. While there has been no agreement on a programme of work for the Conference on Disarmament, significant progress was made last year by the conference’s presidency, and the UK is committed to building on this momentum.

*http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmhn0701.htm <http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmhn0701.htm>
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*5 Feb 2007: **Column 674W*
*Nuclear Weapons*

*Alan Simpson:* To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the implications of the UK's plans for the replacement of Trident for the negotiations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty on nuclear disarmament. [118613]

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

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*28 Feb 2007 : Column 1382W
Non-Proliferation Treaty*

*Mr. Hague: *To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answerof 29 January 2007, Official Report, column 664W, on the Autumn Performance Report, whether officials who have held a series of meetings to examine the possible use of financial measures against proliferators have held discussions with representatives of other countries. [122938]

**

*Dr. Howells: *Yes. Officials have held a series of discussions with international partners, including US, France and Germany, in a variety of international fora, to examine the possible use of financial measures against proliferators.

**

*28 Feb 2007 : Column 1383W
Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing*

*Harry Cohen:* To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the UK Government's policy is on (a) uranium enrichment and (b) plutonium production by foreign countries; and if she will make a statement. [123328]

**

*Dr. Howells:* The UK's policy on civilian production of fissile material is based on Article IV of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The UK works closely with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in promoting the secure use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes as set out in the Treaty and the strengthened processes for its implementation detailed in the 1995 and 2000 Final Documents of the NPT Review Conferences.

In the case of Iran, the nature of Iran's nuclear programme, its history of concealment, its failureto co-operate fully with the IAEA and its refusal totake confidence building measures have added to international concern that Iran's ambitions may not be, as it claims, solely peaceful. The IAEA Board and the United Nations Security Council have required Iran in successive Resolutions to take certain steps including to suspend all uranium enrichment related and reprocessing activities. As the report of the IAEA Director-General issued on 22 February makes clear, Iran continues to defy its legally binding obligations in this area.

**

*28 Feb 2007 : Column 1383W
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty*

*Mr. Dai Davies:* To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the Prime Minister's oral answer of 21 February 2007, Official Report, column 260 to the hon. Member for Sunderland South, which article of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty gives the United Kingdom the right to possess nuclear weapons. [123969]

**

*Dr. Howells: *Article IX of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) states that

"For the purposes of the Treaty, a nuclear-weapon state is one which has manufactured and exploded a nuclear weapon or other nuclear explosive device prior to 1 January, 1967".

The UK successfully tested its first atomic bomb in October 1952 and is therefore classified as a nuclear weapon state under Article IX of the NPT. The NPT remains the principle source of international legal obligations relating to the possession of nuclear weapons. It is entirely lawful for the UK to possess nuclear weapons.

*6 Mar 2007 : Column 1840W
Conference on Disarmament*

*Mr. Cox:* To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent steps the Government have taken within the Conference on Disarmament to achieve consensus on commencing negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty; and if she will make a statement. [125670]

**

*Dr. Howells: *I visited the Conference on Disarmament on 22 February 2007 to discuss thisissue and, in a speech to the conference, encouraged delegations to move forward on these negotiations. The UK fully supports the immediate commencement of negotiations and the conclusion of a treaty on fissile material cut-off. In advance of a treaty coming into force, the UK, in 1995, announced that it had ceased production of fissile material for weapons purposes. This moratorium remains in place.

**

*6 Mar 2007 : Column 1843W
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty*

*Alan Simpson: *To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which states have made representations to the UK Government on compliance with obligations under the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proloferation Treaty; what concerns were expressed; and what response was provided. [125708]

**

*Dr. Howells: *No formal representations with respect to non-compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) have been made directly to the UK by another state party to the treaty.

Issues of non-compliance with nuclear safeguards agreements are dealt with by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna. During the 37 years since the NPT came into force there have been many discussions by the IAEA Board of Governors on potential cases of non-compliance with safeguards. Recent discussions have centred on Iran and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. The IAEA Board of Governors found Iran in non-compliance with its NPT-required safeguards agreement on24 September 2005. The board expressed concerns about Iran's many failures and breaches of its obligations to comply with its safeguards agreement, and its history of concealment of nuclear activities. The board urged Iran to implement transparency measures, to suspend enrichment-related activity, to reconsider construction of a heavy water research reactor, and to ratify and implement the additional protocol. Iran has yet to comply fully with these measures, and was referred to the UN Security Council for further consideration in March 2006. UN Security Council Resolutions 1696 and 1737 set out the international community's requirements for Iran build confidence in the peaceful nature of its nuclear programme.

The UK has never been accused of non-compliance with its safeguards agreements with the agency or with its NPT obligations.

**

*6 Mar 2007 : Column 1843W
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty*

*Alan Simpson: *To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will seek legal opinion on whether the proposals to replace the Trident nuclear weapons system is compatible with article 1 of the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. [125733]

**

*Dr. Howells: *As noted in the ministerial code, the fact and substance of legal advice to the Government remains confidential. This enables Government to obtain frank and full legal advice in confidence.