Skip to main content

Nuclear Disarmament

Volume 455: debated on Monday 8 January 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the 13 practical steps toward nuclear disarmament referred to on page 13 of the White Paper CM6994, in respect of which of these steps progress has been made; and if he will make a statement. (108787)

We continue to support and have made progress on the “13 Practical Steps”, agreed at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in 2000, which are applicable to the UK. These are listed in 2000 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, Final Document, a copy of which is available in the Library of the House. The 13 steps are:

1. The early entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

2. A nuclear testing moratorium pending entry into force of the CTBT.

3. The immediate commencement of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament on a non-discriminatory, multilateral, and effectively verifiable fissile material cut-off treaty. The negotiations should aim to be concluded within five years.

4. The establishment in the Conference on Disarmament of a subsidiary body to deal with nuclear disarmament.

5. The principle of irreversibility to apply to all nuclear disarmament and reduction measures.

6. An unequivocal undertaking by nuclear-weapon states to eliminate their nuclear arsenals.

7. The early entry into force and implementation of START II, the conclusion of START III, and the preservation and strengthening of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

8. The completion and implementation of the Trilateral Initiative between the United States, the Russian Federation, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

9. Steps by all nuclear-weapon states toward disarmament including unilateral nuclear reductions; transparency on weapons capabilities and Article Vl-related agreements; reductions in non-strategic nuclear weapons; measures to reduce the operational status of nuclear weapons; a diminishing role for nuclear weapons in security policies; the engagement of nuclear-weapon states as soon as appropriate in a process leading to complete disarmament.

10. The placement of excess military fissile materials under IAEA or other international verification and the disposition of such material for peaceful purposes.

11. Reaffirmation of the objective of general and complete disarmament under effective international control.

12. Regular state reporting in the NPT review process on the implementation of Article VI obligations.

13. The development of verification capabilities necessary to ensuring compliance with nuclear disarmament agreements.

We have signed and ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban treaty, continued to observe the moratorium on nuclear weapons testing, continued to press for the negotiation in the Conference on Disarmament, without preconditions, of a fissile material cut-off treaty whilst maintaining our moratorium. We have demonstrated our commitment to the irreversibility of nuclear disarmament. We continue to reiterate our unequivocal undertaking to accomplish the total elimination of our nuclear arsenal leading to nuclear disarmament and have undertaken several unilateral steps towards nuclear disarmament including reductions in warhead numbers, increased transparency by publishing historical accounting records of our defence fissile material holdings and reduced the operational status of our deterrent.

All fissile material no longer required for defence purposes is under international safeguards. We continue to reaffirm our commitment to achieving the general and complete disarmament objectives of Article VI. We report regularly in a number of different formats and fora on the progress we have made under Article VI. We have pursued a widely welcomed programme to develop UK expertise in methods and technologies that could be used to verify nuclear disarmament. Finally, we produced a series of working papers culminating in a presentation at the 2005 NPT—non-proliferation treaty—Review Conference. The Atomic Weapons Establishment continues to undertake research in this area.