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Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty

Volume 518: debated on Tuesday 9 November 2010

7. What recent representations he has received on the UK’s obligations under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. (22531)

We have received no recent representations about the UK’s obligations. We welcome the result of the review conference in May, and particularly the final document, which the UK played a leading part in negotiating. We were able to announce for the first time our nuclear warhead capability and a re-evaluation of the declaratory principle, which has now taken place.

I thank the Minister for that answer, but does he have any concern that the announcement of a 50-year Anglo-French nuclear deal undermines in any way our commitment to achieving nuclear disarmament at an early date, as outlined in article VI of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty?

No. I thank the hon. Lady for her question and am aware of her background in the matter. The arrangement with the French is entirely consistent with our obligations under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. It is designed to ensure that we safeguard the reliability and maintenance of our nuclear weapons stockpile, and it makes sense. We are proceeding, through the non-proliferation treaty talks, towards a world of disarmament, and maintaining our nuclear capability and signing the treaty in no way belies that undertaking.

Given that article VI of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty does not require either France or the UK to give up their nuclear weapons while other countries remain nuclear powers, is it not particularly unfortunate that the Government have thrown the future of the British nuclear deterrent into doubt by postponing the vital main gate decision to the other side of the general election?

No. I do not think there is any doubt about the United Kingdom’s position on the nuclear deterrent, and in fact everything that we have done since the election confirms our intention to both maintain the security and defence of the UK and stake our international obligations on the future prospects for disarmament to the fullest extent.