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Nato (Nuclear Warheads)

Volume 656: debated on Monday 26 March 1962

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asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will request the United States Government to circulate to their North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies details of the steps taken to ensure security of nuclear warheads where custody pending use remains with the United States Government.

No, Sir. The North Atlantic Alliance is aware that the security of such nuclear warheads is rigidly enforced and that they remain in the constant physical custody of United States military detachments. Detailed security arrangements are concluded bilaterally between the United States and each North Atlantic Treaty Organisation country concerned. I see no reason to recommend any change.

But has not the Mace already been supplied to Germany? Did not the Minister of Defence on 20th December admit that nuclear warheads are allocated to Germans in N.A.T.O. as they are to the British? Since the warheads in time of emergency must be stored near the missiles, would this not mean that they could be seized and used by German officers?

I am advised that this is definitely not so. There is no question of this happening. The security arrangements are strict and are stringently enforced, and I am sure that they would cover all eventualities.

Is it not the case that the Americans have agreed to hand over custody of nuclear warheads in an emergency?