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White Phosphorus

Volume 486: debated on Tuesday 20 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the size of the stockpile of white phosphorus shells held by the armed forces is; and what criteria control the use of such shells. (249206)

UK armed forces possess white phosphorus munitions for the purpose of producing a smoke screen to provide cover and thus protection for our soldiers on the battlefield. These are conventional munitions that are not outlawed or banned by any convention or protocol. I am withholding information on the size of the stockpile of these munitions on the grounds that its disclosure would be likely to prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of the armed forces. UK training in the use of white phosphorus emphasises that it should be used solely for its intended purpose and not as an anti-personnel weapon.