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Middle East: Nuclear Weapons

Volume 489: debated on Wednesday 28 October 1987

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3.7 p.m.

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the second Question standing in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Govenment which countries in the Middle East are carrying out tests on thermo-nuclear warheads and neutron bombs and have not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

My Lords, we have no evidence that any countries in the Middle East are carrying out such tests.

My Lords, if the noble Lord will make further investigations into specific journals in the Library he will see what is not unreasonable evidence that some four or five countries are preparing to go this way. As a leading nation which always has been sane and sensible in its approach to very many things, we could indicate to the United Nations that we should try to get these nations which are now starting this business to sign the nonproliferation treaty.

My Lords, certainly signing the non-proliferation treaty would be a valuable confidence-building measure to improve stability in the Middle East. It would also help to encourage other non-signatories in the region to sign and thereby reduce tension and reduce the chances of a nuclear arms race in the region. I can assure the noble Lord that Her Majesty's Government have called upon Israel, for example, to sign the nonproliferation treaty.

My Lords, what will happen if these nations tell us to go and take a flying leap?

My Lords, in that case we shall continue to pressure them, persuade them and do whatever we can to encourage them to sign that treaty.