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Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference

Volume 684: debated on Tuesday 24 November 2020

What the Government’s priorities are for the nuclear non-proliferation treaty review conference in 2021. (909162)

The United Kingdom’s priority is to reinforce the non-proliferation treaty as a vital part of the international security architecture and to highlight the UK’s strong track record across all three pillars of the treaty. Building on the successful 2020 UK-led P5 process, we will work to promote transparency between nuclear and non-nuclear states and submit a national report to highlight our achievement in support of the NPT. The UK will also emphasise the important role of peaceful uses of nuclear energy in achieving the sustainable development goals.

Given that the UK is a signatory to this treaty, does the Minister agree that the logical next step would be for the UK now to become a signatory to the UN treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons, taking the lead from the First Minister of Wales, who has welcomed this treaty? In that way, we in the UK can take a lead internationally to create a future throughout the world without nuclear weapons.

The UK has reduced by half its nuclear arsenal since the end of the cold war, but we will not sign or ratify the prohibition of nuclear weapons. We do not believe that this treaty brings us any closer to a world without nuclear weapons, and it will not improve the security environment.

I hope the Minister will agree with me that the UK must seize the opportunity of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty review conference early next year to push multilateral nuclear disarmament back up the global agenda and take the steps necessary to bring about a world free from the threat of nuclear weapons. With major non-signatories, such as India and Pakistan, still remaining, will the Minister outline how the Government plan to encourage those countries and others to commit to signing the treaty?

I think that everyone from all parts of this House will share the desire to see a world without nuclear weapons. However, we do need to ensure that at no point do we compromise the United Kingdom’s defence. We worked at the P5 conference of NPT nuclear weapon states that took place in February 2020 to demonstrate our engagement with the wider non-proliferation treaty community, and we will continue to work on our priorities: transparency, the UK national report, disarmament verification and peaceful uses of nuclear energy.