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Uranium Supplies

Volume 982: debated on Monday 31 March 1980

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asked the Lord Privy Seal if, in the light of the decisions of the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2145 of 1966, the Security Council Resolution 269 of 1969 and the United Nations Decree No. 1 of 1974, United Nations member States are entitled to seize cargoes of uranium from Namibia en route to Great Britain.

No. The Security Council cannot take decisions that are generally binding on member States or that entitle them to take action which is in the nature of sanctions, unless there has been a determination under article 39 of the United Nations Charter of the existence of a threat to peace, a breach of the peace or an act of aggression. There has been no such decision over Namibia.The United Nations Charter confers upon the General Assembly powers which, with certain exceptions of very limited scope, are recommendatory. Neither it, nor a subordinate body, in this case the Council of Namibia, was competent to take executive or legislative decisions of the kind in question.Successive Governments have maintained, therefore, that these provisions do not oblige member States to refrain from importing uranium from Namibia, nor do they entitle member States to seize cargoes of uranium from Namibia en route to this country or elsewhere.