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Stockholm Document

Volume 124: debated on Tuesday 8 December 1987

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5.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he is satisfied with the application of the inspection arrangements agreed under the Stockholm document.

Yes. The Stockholm document is concerned with confidence-building in Europe through greater transparency in military activities. The provision for verification of compliance, through on-site inspection by participating states, is a significant way of achieving greater trust and confidence on all sides.

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for that answer. Has he yet considered any challenge inspections or even observation inspections of Soviet military exercises? Does he consider that any of the forthcoming exercises are suitable for a challenge?

Yes, we have indeed considered challenge inspections. Looking to next year, we have an indication of notifiable exercises. The figures available to date indicate that there will be seven observable exercises in the Warsaw pact countries — three in the German Democratic Republic, two in Czechoslavakia, one in Hungary and one in the USSR. On our side, there will be nine suitable exercises in NATO countries—seven in the Federal Republic of Germany, one in Denmark and one in Norway—and two in Switzerland.

Given that we accept that confidence-building is so important, is the Secretary of State aware that last Thursday nuclear warheads were brought into the cruise missile base at RAF Molesworth, that last night that base was put on black alert—which I understand is the highest state of alert—and that, because of the presence of police, we must assume that a convoy run was being planned? Does he really think that that is in the spirit of detente surrounding the signing of the INF treaty today? Will he guarantee that no further exercises of that kind will take place in this country and that, following the INF agreement, to which we look forward, there will be no increase in American-owned nuclear weapons coming into Britain?

I appreciate the hon. Lady's question, but I can neither confirm nor deny any of the facts that she has suggested; and, with great respect to her, they bear no relation whatever to the question.

Is it acceptable to my right hon. Friend that any inspection teams representing Warsaw pact forces should he comprised of members who have formerly been banned from Britain for alleged acts incompatible with their diplomatic status?

I understand that any personnel who have been declared persona non grata would not be acceptable on inspection teams.