HC Deb 29 October 1980 vol 991 cc472-4
8. Mr. Mikardo

asked the Lord Privy Seal what representations he has made to the French Government about the supply of weapons-grade uranium to Iraq.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Nicholas Ridley)

Iraq is a party to the nonproliferation treaty. The supply of this material for a civil research reactor is under international safeguards. We are not satisfied that there are grounds to press the French to break their contracts.

Mr. Mikardo

Is the Minister aware that Iraq, in addition to being a signatory of the non-proliferation treaty, is also bound by treaties not to invade a neighbouring country? Since that country has manifestly violated that undertaking, is it not doubtful whether it can be held to its signature to the non-proliferation treaty? Is it not the height of folly to give a country which has shown such aggressive attitudes as Iraq has done recently the ability to make war with nuclear weapons which could begin a world confrontation? Since the Lord Privy Seal attaches so much importance to a combined policy by the EEC should he not say to the French gently that any hope of such a combined policy is being sacrificed on the altar of what the French believe to be their own national interest?

Mr. Ridley

I agree that it would be a serious and unprecedented development if a party to the non-proliferation treaty were to break its obligations that it had solemnly entered into. But of course, the supply by France, which has been discussed by the Government with the French, was part of the normal provision for nuclear power which is allowed under the treaty, and it took place before the recent war.

Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop

Will my hon. Friend bear in mind that what the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo) said about Iraq must apply to Israel with equal force? That country dishonestly obtained large quantities of nuclear material, widely believed to be for military purposes. Is he also aware that Israeli aircraft are daily attacking another independent country—the Lebanon—without being in a state of declared war? Should not this cause us equal apprehension?

Mr. Ridley

One can have apprehension about nuclear proliferation where-ever it occurs. Of course, Israel is not a signatory of the non-proliferation treaty.

Mr. Faulds

Since it is now generally acknowledged that Israel has nuclear weapons, with the assistance of South Africa, what information do the Government have about Israeli involvement in the air-raid on the nuclear centre in Iraq?

Mr. Ridley

That was merely speculation and I can neither confirm nor deny it.