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Nuclear Weapons (Cis)

Volume 202: debated on Friday 24 January 1992

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) which republics in the Commonwealth of Independent States have ben offered assistance to safeguard and destroy nuclear weapons;(2) pursuant to his reply of 19 December,

Official Report, column 285, what was the date on which he first made clear to the authorities in the republics his willingness to provide assistance and advice on safeguarding and destroying nuclear weapons;

(3) what numbers and types of his Department's personnel and equipment he is prepared to make available to republics in the Commonwealth of Independent States to assist in safeguarding and destroying nuclear weapons.

We and our allies have made clear on several occasions, to the authorities first in the former Soviet Union and more recently in Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine, our concern that existing arms control agreements, including the nonproliferation treaty, be honoured. We have also made clear our willingness to provide assistance and advice on safeguarding and destroying nuclear weapons where necessary and practicable. The form any such assistance might take will be established in consultation with allies and the countries concerned.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is his assessment of the ability of the facilities in the Russian Federation to destroy the strategic and tactical nuclear warheads that were due to be disposed of by the former Soviet Government.

The Russian Federation has specialist facilities capable of carrying out nuclear warhead dismantlement. Together with our allies we are considering with the Russians the best way of providing appropriate assistance to help with this task.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if, pursuant to his statement in the debate on nuclear weapons, Official Report, 14 January, column 822, he will set out the source of his information that tactical nuclear weapons, including torpedoes, air-launched missiles or nuclear artillery shells, are located at 100 sites in 13 different republics of the former Soviet Union.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what calculation he has made of the length of time the nuclear warheads presently deployed in the individual republics of the Commonwealth of Independent States can remain operational without refurbishment in the central nuclear facility of Nizhnyaya Tura in Russia.

Routine servicing would probably maintain the majority of warheads in their normal condition for several years. No nuclear warheads in the republics of the CIS can become operational or useable, however, without the implementation of appropriate command and control procedures.