HC Deb 13 July 1959 vol 609 cc25-6
35. Mr. Healey

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what reply he has made to the official Soviet proposal for a nuclear-free zone in the Balkans.

Mr. Profumo

A statement has today been communicated to the Soviet Government on behalf of Her Majesty's Government. I will circulate the text in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Healey

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that though there is a case to be made against a nuclear-free zone in any area, there is a great deal to be said for the general limitation of all armaments and forces in this area, and as the Government support such limitation in Central Europe, will they not make positive proposals in this sense for the Balkans area?

Mr. Profumo

As the hon. Gentleman knows, Her Majesty's Government are doing everything possible to help to negotiate a comprehensive disarmament plan, but this, as does any other plan for arms limitation or nuclear-free zones, must, I am sure, depend on an adequate system of inspection. We cannot move without that, except by surrendering our responsibility for the safety of the people whom we represent.

Following is the statement: The Government of the United Kingdom have noted the proposal of the Soviet Government made on 25th June for a denuclearised and rocket-free zone in the Balkans and the Adriatic area. It is the sincere hope of the United Kingdom Government that it will be possible to negotiate with the Government of the Soviet Union and other interested Governments a plan for comprehensive disarmament including an effective system of inspection and control. The United Kingdom Government are very ready to enter into negotiations to that end. They believe the time is now ripe for another attempt by the leading powers to reach agreement, and they hope that consideration will be given to disarmament at the Foreign Ministers' meeting in Geneva. At the present time the most modern and destructive weapons are being introduced into the Soviet Armed Forces. In view of this fact it would seem unjust and unreasonable to expect the free Governments in the Balkan-Adriatic area to renounce, in advance of general agreement, and without an equivalent concession by the Soviet Union, appropriate weapons of defence. Although the decision is primarily one for the governments referred to, the United Kingdom Government would in the circumstances fully understand their unwillingness to surrender their rights or to discontinue their efforts to take adequate measures for collective self-defence within the framework of their alliances.

July 13, 1959.