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Nato-Warsaw Pact (Weapons)

Volume 130: debated on Wednesday 30 March 1988

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the comparative nuclear, conventional and chemical weapons' levels of NATO and the Warsaw pact.

Comparisons of NATO and Warsaw pact nuclear and conventional forces are published annually in the "Statement on the Defence Estimates".While there is broad parity at the strategic level of nuclear forces, the Warsaw pact continues to enjoy a significant advantage in the intermediate and short-range categories.The Soviet Union also commands the world's largest, most comprehensive and advanced capability for chemical and toxic agent warfare. The United Kingdom abandoned its chemical weapons capability in the 1950s and the United States produced no chemical weapons between 1969 and 1987. However, this unilateral restraint by the West has not been matched by the Soviet Union. It was against this background that the United States began its modernisation programme to replace its own aging stocks with binary weapons stationed on United States territory.As regards conventional forces, the Warsaw pact enjoys massive numerical superiority, and these forces are deployed so as to enable them to initiate surprise attack and large scale offensive action. They also have the potential to bring forward massive land-based reinforcements across relatively short distances. By contrast, NATO is faced with the need for many of its reinforcements to cross the Atlantic.