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France (Nuclear Weapons)

Volume 654: debated on Wednesday 21 February 1962

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asked the Lord Privy Seal what preparations have been made by the Council of Western European Union, in the light of President de Gaulle's announcement that before the end of next year France will have her first operational atomic unit, to determine the level of nuclear weapon stocks which France shall be permitted to hold on the European continent, in accordance with the revised Brussels Treaty.

The Council of Western European Union is fully conscious of its responsibilities with regard to Article III of Protocol No. III of the Revised Brussels Treaty. The conditions laid down in the Article for fixing levels of stocks of nuclear weapons and for the simultaneous introduction of controls have, however, not yet been fulfilled. The Treaty provisions have, therefore, not so far entered into effect.

In the light of that very unsatisfactory reply, does the Lord Privy Seal recall that it was part of the bargain struck in the Paris Agreement that arms control should be on a non-discriminatory basis? If France is to be allowed to evade her obligations, as now seems likely in the light of that reply, how long will it be before Germany does likewise?

I think that the hon. Member's deduction is completely unjustified. The reason why the Treaty provision has not been carried into effect is that effective production of such weapons on the mainland of Europe has not yet begun. I am surprised that the bon. Member, holding the views he does, thinks that deplorable. The Council of Western European Union has accepted assurances from the French Government that this stage has not yet been reached and that, therefore, the question of control does not yet arise.