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Abm Treaty And Uk Role In Us Research

Volume 474: debated on Wednesday 7 May 1986

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asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether it is the case, as reported in the

Financial Times on 3rd March, that vessels and aircraft from the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force are to act as "targets" for an experiment related to the Strategic Defense Initiative, and, if so, on what grounds they consider this test to be compatible with the United States' strict interpretation of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty of 1973.

The article in question refers to the UK intention, along with Canada and Australia, to participate in the US led Teal Ruby research programme. This aims, through the launch of a satellite carrying an experimental infra-red sensor, to assess the potential of infra-red for space surveillance, and its results have a variety of potential civil and military applications.

The experiment, which has been delayed following the tragic loss of the Shuttle "Challenger", is separate from the SDI research programme, although its results could conceivably be linked with SDI research in future.

The US Government has made it clear that Teal Ruby will involve field testing of a device which is neither an ABM component nor capable of substituting for an ABM component, and does not therefore contravene the restrictive interpretation of the ABM Treaty.