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Nuclear Alert

Volume 974: debated on Tuesday 27 November 1979

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20.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what contact the United States Government had with Her Majesty's Government over their recent six-minute nuclear alert; and if he will make a statement.

31.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if the British Government were alterted when the United States computer miscalculation occurred recently; and if he will make a statement.

36.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he is satisfied with the liaison between his Department and the Pentagon, particularly during the recent false nuclear alert.

As I explained in the answer which I gave on 14 November, the contact was at command level, and the fact that the error was false was confirmed within a minute by the normal checking and verification procedure.

37.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the safeguards which exist to prevent a nuclear war being initiated as the result of the development of a computer fault.

When an alert signal is triggered it is subject to the most careful evaluation and verification by highly skilled operators. This is what happened in the recent incident when the alarm was diagnosed as false within seconds.

41.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence, as a result of the recent red alert for a nuclear war, what further consideration is being given to extending the United Kingdom's nuclear war capacity.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he will make a statement on the future of the United Kingdom strategic nuclear deterrent.

I refer the hon. Member and my hon. Friend to the answer I gave earlier today to the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Cook).