HC Deb 17 April 1967 vol 745 cc81-3
27. Mr. Winnick

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs when it is expected that a nuclear non-proliferation treaty will be agreed; and if he will make a statement.

51. Mr. Dodds-Parker

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, what proposals he is making to ensure that any treaty on non-proliferation safeguards the rights of smaller countries to develop commercially their non-military nuclear projects.

52. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on progress towards a nuclear non-proliferation agreement.

69. Mr. A. Royle

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs when he expects to sign a nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

Mr. George Brown

The Eighteen Nation Disarmament Committee has now adjourned for a short period, to allow for further discussions on the nonproliferation proposals within the Eastern and Western Alliances. We hope that these discussions will result in the tabling of a draft non-proliferation treaty when the Committee resumes. It is accepted by all concerned that the development of civil nuclear technology must be fully safeguarded by the treaty.

Mr. Winnick

Would my right hon. Friend not agree that it seems that the biggest obstacle to signing such a treaty is West Germany? Has he seen Herr Strauss's recent statement that a united Europe must be nuclear armed? Is not that man dangerous?

Mr. Brown

I do not regard that as a very helpful remark, nor do I accept Press reports as being any more likely to be accurate when they refer to foreign statesmen than when they refer to our own. On the first part of the question, what my hon. Friend alleges is not true. Many non-nuclear Powers are necessarily concerned to see that the treaty does not improperly discriminate against them. It is true of many, if not all, and not especially true of any one of them.

Mr. Dodds-Parker

Will the Foreign Secretary at least be prepared to accept the same safeguards for peaceful uses of nuclear equipment as are being required of non-nuclear weapons countries?

Mr. Brown

We are certainly considering what we can do in that regard.

Mr. Frank Allaun

Would it not encourage the non-nuclear nations to renounce such weapons if we gave up our own? Did not the Government promise three years ago that they would get rid of our own so-called independent nuclear deterrent?

Mr. Brown

We have said that we have internationalised our own. That we have done. The question whether any of us should at any stage, as it were, get rid of the weapons we have would be a matter for negotiation. One would want to see what came in return for it.

Mr. Hogg

Is it not a fact that civil reactors will be producing plutonium from 1970 onwards as a necessary byproduct of their action, and is not the clue to the answer a proper inspection and accountability for fissile material?

Mr. Brown

That is a very large part of the answer, and the safeguard clauses being suggested for the treaty must take that into account.

Mr. Philip Noel-Baker

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that a non-proliferation treaty makes no sense unless, as the Indian delegate has insisted, it is a first step to nuclear disarmament, with inspection by the international authority of all powers?

Mr. Brown

I suppose that one could argue that nothing in this sphere makes any sense unless we reach nuclear disarmament, but everything that is a step towards reaching it makes a lot of sense.

Sir T. Beamish

I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that we have internationalised our nuclear weapons. Did I hear him correctly, and if so, what did he mean?

Mr. Brown

I mean that we do not target ours nationally. We are part of the international targetting arrangements.

Mr. Shinwell

Is not the reluctance of the West German Government to accept the non-proliferation treaty due to their desire some day—and it may be soon—to gain control and use of nuclear weapons? Would that not constitute a danger to peace?

Mr. Brown

I think that there is a good deal in what my right hon. Friend said.