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Inf Agreement

Volume 124: debated on Tuesday 8 December 1987

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12.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence to what arms control and disarmament negotiations he expects directly to contribute following the intermediate nuclear forces agreement.

INF negotiations have been conducted between the Soviet Union and the United States in close consultation with the NATO Alliance. The United Kingdom participates directly in a number of arms control fora, including the work of the conference on disarmament, which includes negotiation of a global ban on chemical weapons; the first committee of the United Nations General Assembly; mutual and balanced force reductions negotiations between NATO and the Warsaw pact in Vienna; and the conference on security and confidence-building in Europe, under which discussions are continuing on a mandate for negotiations on confidence and security-building measures and conventional stability.

I thank the Minister for that answer. Since the Prime Minister spent yesterday trying to cash in on the success of the INF talks—[Interruption.]

Thank you Mr. Speaker. As I was saying, since the Prime Minister spent most of yesterday trying to cash in on the success of the INF talks, will the Secretary of State for Defence now tell us that the Government are prepared to negotiate the removal of all nuclear weapons and that they are prepared to play a positive role in the disarmament negotiations rather than spend all their time and energy attacking the CND, which has done more to bring about the INF treaty—[Interruption.]

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As I was concluding, will the Secretary of State also spend less time on anti-Soviet rhetoric and instead come to a serious discussion about the need to eliminate all nuclear weapons?

The object of all arms control reduction talks is to eliminate war and to bring peace by every means possible. The Government can now show remarkable progress towards those things. The hon. Gentleman is remarkably courageous in suggesting that the CND has any credit at all in this matter. If its advice had been followed we would have had no agreement and a much more threatening situation to face in future. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has every reason to be proud of the part that she has played in bringing about the reduction in nuclear weapons, which is greater than any previous reduction achieved under any Administration.

Is it not clear that the successful policy followed by Her Majesty's Government in conjunction with our NATO allies and pursued on the basis of the twin-track decision since 1979 has brought the desired results? Is it not also clear that the Government will have a valuable role to play in future in negotiating a verifiable, workable agreement to reduce the threat of chemical weapons?

My hon. Friend is correct. It is the twin-track decision that has brought about the agreement which we hope will be signed today in Washington. It is worth reminding ourselves that the Opposition opposed that decision root and branch and voted against it in the House.