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Nuclear Disarmament

Volume 470: debated on Wednesday 23 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what further steps the Government plan to take to secure nuclear disarmament in accordance with their commitments under Article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. (180611)

The UK has now met the commitment outlined in the 2006 White Paper on the future of the UK nuclear deterrent to reduce the number of operationally available warheads to fewer than 160. The explosive power of our nuclear arsenal has been reduced by 75 per cent. since the end of the cold war.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Margaret Beckett), then Foreign Secretary, announced in her June 2007 speech to the Carnegie Endowment that the UK would act as a “disarmament laboratory” for the thinking and practical work required to move forward global nuclear disarmament. We are supporting an independent International Institute of Strategic Studies in-depth study to help determine the requirements for the eventual elimination of all nuclear weapons. We have also tasked the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston with some detailed work on key stages in the verification of the reduction and elimination of nuclear weapons.

The UK continues to press for the immediate commencement of negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty, the next logical step for multilateral nuclear disarmament, at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.