HC Deb 03 July 1958 vol 590 cc1581-3
45. Mr. Stonehouse

asked the Prime Minister if he will now state whether the inspection of atomic plants supplied to Italy, Japan and other countries will be under the International Atomic Energy Agency; and what steps are taken to ensure that plutonium produced in these plants is not used for military purposes.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Macmillan)

The United Kingdom's agreements with Italy and Japan provide for consultation between the contracting parties to determine in what respects and to what extent they desire to arrange for the safeguards in the agreements to be administered by an appropriate international agency. Detailed arrangements for implementing the safeguards have not yet been made.

Mr. Stonehouse

In view of the fact that this country is proposing to export atomic plants to Brazil, Germany and, understand, even Spain, is it not imperative that we should make certain that there are adequate controls to ensure that military plutonium is not extracted for the manufacture of atomic arms? At what stage will the International Atomic Energy Agency be drawn into these agreements? Is continuous supervision allowed for?

The Prime Minister

The agreements provide for consultation as to what would be the most appropriate way of policing these agreements. It is a matter of importance but not of great urgency, because it will take a considerable time before these plants can be ready.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

In view of the fact that all these plants which are being established in many countries which are now called non-nuclear will be capable of producing fissile material for weapons, is it not important that at an early stage the principle should be established that the Atomic Energy Agency shall be the authority which carries out the requisite permanent inspection?

The Prime Minister

These are bilateral agreements between ourselves, the Italians and the Japanese, and we have included in the agreements provision for making these controls and safeguards. We are now discussing what would be the most appropriate way by which they should be carried out.

Mr. Noel-Baker

I have examined the agreements which have been made with Japan and Italy, and I am asking the Prime Minister whether he does not think it desirable at an early stage to get a firm agreement that the Agency should be used for this purpose.

The Prime Minister

I will consider that. But, as I say, it is not a matter of great urgency, because, unfortunately, these plants take a very long time to manufacture.

Forward to