HC Deb 29 May 1963 vol 678 cc1309-10
27. Mr. A. Henderson

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will state the policy of Her Majesty's Government with regard to the latest official Soviet Government proposal for the establishment of the Mediterranean as a nuclear-free zone.

Mr. Heath

Her Majesty's Government have no objection in principle to the formation of nuclear-free zones in certain areas, so long as such zones are set up voluntarily by the States concerned and the existing military balance is not disturbed. In the Mediterranean neither of these conditions would be met.

Mr. Henderson

Would it not be more realistic if we sought to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons to countries bordering on the Mediterranean sea rather than to declare the Mediterranean sea itself a non-nuclear zone? Will Her Majesty's Government intimate to the Soviet Government that they would willingly co-operate in seeking to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons to countries like Israel and the Arab States in that part of the Mediterranean?

Mr. Heath

It has long been our policy that we should try to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons in this way and particularly in the Middle East. I will certainly bear in mind what the right hon. and learned Gentleman has said in considering the reply to the Soviet Note.

Commander Courtney

Would my right hon. Friend also bear in mind perhaps drawing to the attention of the Soviet Government in this context the potential nuclear capacity of Soviet warships lent to the United Arab Republic?

Mr. Heath

Yes, Sir.