§ 3. Mr. Etherington
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if Her Majesty's Government will implement a moratorium on United Kingdom nuclear tests.
§ The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Tristan Garel-Jones)
No. As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has made clear, the United Kingdom has a continuing requirement to conduct a minimum programme of nuclear tests to maintain the safety and effectiveness of our nuclear deterrent.
§ Mr. Etherington
On 8 April the French Government decided to impose a moratorium on nuclear testing and, following that, President Mitterrand made an offer to negotiate with other countries willing to go along the same lines. Also, expert opinion in the United States believes that nuclear testing is not necessary to maintain the value of nuclear deterrents. In view of all that, when can we expect the Government to start acting in a positive and constructive manner, or will we continue to stand on the sidelines and wait to see what happens?
§ Mr. Garel-Jones
France's nuclear-testing requirements are matters for the French Government and the moratorium has no direct bearing on the United Kingdom's policy. The United Kingdom's test programme in Nevada is conducted in accordance with the 1963 partial test ban treaty. It is minimal and poses no threat to the environment or public health.