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Missile Defence

Volume 406: debated on Thursday 12 June 2003

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

In a written statement on 5 February 2003, Official Report, columns 11–12WS. I informed the House that the Government had agreed to a US request to upgrade the early warning radar at RAF Fylingdales as part of the US missile defence programme. Since then, we have been engaged in negotiating agreements with the US intended further to develop bilateral cooperation on aspects of the US missile defence programme. The United States Secretary of Defense and I have today signed a Framework Memorandum of Understanding on missile defence that facilitates bilateral information exchanges on missile defence matters, establishes a top-level management structure to oversee cooperative work, and prepares the way for fair opportunities to be given to UK industry to participate in the US programme. It also contains general provisions for security, personnel and other administrative matters. Further MOUs are being negotiated covering the detailed arrangements for the upgrade of the Fylingdales radar, and setting up specific UK/US technical cooperative programmes. The details of these bilateral arrangements are confidential between the respective Governments at this stage.None of these agreements commits the UK Government to the acquisition or deployment of a missile defence system. But the Framework MOU is an important step forward that will enable us to improve our understanding of the capabilities of the US system, in order to inform any future decisions on missile defence for the UK or for Europe as a whole.