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Nuclear Deterrent

Volume 210: debated on Tuesday 30 June 1992

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the policy of nuclear deterrents in relation to the ownership of nuclear weapons by other states.

In its new strategic concept agreed last autumn, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation reaffirmed that nuclear weapons remain essential to the alliance's strategy for preserving peace. The United Kingdom's independent deterrent is our ultimate safeguard in a world in which many countries have the potential to acquire nuclear and other powerful weapons.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on his consideration of how best the United Kingdom might contribute to the strategic nuclear arms control process, as referred to in paragraph 319, Statement on the Defence Estimates, 1991, volume 1.

We have always made it clear that the United Kingdom would deploy only the minimum strategic deterrent required for our security needs. The United States and Russia have agreed to reduce their strategic nuclear forces substantially over the next seven to 11 years, reflecting an improved strategic environment. At the same time, there is increasing interest in improving ballistic missile defences and their deployment on a limited basis. These factors will be taken fully into account in keeping under review the capability which will need to be deployed to maintain an effective deterrent into the next century.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assurances he has received from the United States Government regarding implications for the United Kingdom's strategic nuclear deterrent of the sharing of American anti-ballistic missile technology with Russia.

The United States Government have assured us that nothing will be done in connection with United States proposals for limited ballistic missile defences which could undermine the effectiveness of our deterrent.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the Government's policy on nuclear defence.

The Government intend that our independent nuclear deterrent should continue to provide the ultimate guarantee of our security in the decades ahead, as it has for decades past.