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South Africa: Chemical and Biological Warfare

Volume 475: debated on Wednesday 7 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 27 February 2008, Official Report, columns 1707-8W, on South Africa: chemical and biological warfare, whether the investigation conducted into the allegations that UK Government officials and scientists had contact with or knowingly provided assistance to any South African chemical and biological weapons programme or persons involved in Project Coast considered the evidence to the Truth and Justice Commission that Wouter Basson used a house in the home counties of England to meet UK scientists and to circumvent the sanctions regime against South Africa; and if he will make a statement. (192701)

[holding answer 17 March 2008]: The investigation into allegations that the Government was involved in providing information to personnel connected to South Africa’s Chemical and Biological Weapons programme considered information from a variety of sources, including evidence given to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It was the policy of successive Governments from the mid 1970s to have no military cooperation with South Africa. There was no blanket ban on scientific contacts with South Africa during the apartheid period, though they were discouraged if they might contribute to the support or promotion of apartheid.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 27 February 2008, Official Report, columns 1707-8W, on South Africa: chemical and biological warfare, between what dates the full investigations were held into the allegations of UK assistance to Project Coast or other South African chemical and biological weapons programme; and if he will make a statement. (192703)

[holding answer 17 March 2008]: UK investigations were initiated in 1998 and continued into 2001, following allegations made during hearings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that the Government was involved in providing information to personnel connected to South Africa’s Project Coast. The investigations were thorough and included the relevant Government bodies. There was no evidence to suggest Government officials knowingly provided assistance to any South African Chemical and Biological Weapons programme.