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Europe (Ussr Proposals)

Volume 974: debated on Tuesday 27 November 1979

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35.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what consideration he has given to the defence implications of the proposals made by President Brezhnev that no Soviet nuclear weapons would be targeted on countries in Europe that refuse to have nuclear weapons sited on their soil.

In consultation with our Allies, we are carefully considering all the proposals made by President Brezhnev in his 6 October speech. However, the undertaking on use of nuclear weapons against European countries merely repeats the assurance given by the Soviet Union in the United Nations in 1978. At the same time the United Kingdom gave an undertaking not to use nuclear weapons against any State which had agreed not to acquire such weapons unless a State, in association with a nuclear power, attacked the United Kingdom or its allies. The repetition of the Soviet position at this time is clearly intended to be divisive within NATO.The Alliance needs to retain the freedom to deploy its forces, both conventional and nuclear, throughout its territory and the strength of NATO rests on the acceptance of collective defence and shared risk.

43.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what consultations he has carried out with other NATO members about a possible response to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics' recent offer to reduce the level of its forces in Europe.

I have had a number of meetings with other NATO Defence Ministers. In the NATO nuclear planning group of 13–14 November I agreed with my colleagues that recent Soviet statements should not be allowed to obscure the disturbing growth in their long range theatre nuclear capability. At the same time we reaffirmed the need for arms control to be pursued in parallel with the modernisation of NATO's theatre nuclear forces, and we welcomed the constructive preparations in the Alliance of proposals to the Soviet Union aimed at reducing the disparity in the level of nuclear forces.