§ 2.35 p.m.
§ LORD ROWLEY
My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.
§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will make a statement on the progress made at the Geneva Disarmament Conference, with regard to the achievement of a Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and an Underground Test Ban Agreement.]
§ THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (LORD CHALFONT)
My Lords, The Co-Chairmen of the Disarmament Committee are still discussing the draft of a non-proliferation treaty which we hope will be tabled in the near future. On the comprehensive test ban, the main difficulty remains the question of verification. We have urged the Soviet Union to join us in tripartite talks to discuss this, but so far they have refused.
§ LORD ROWLEY
My Lords, may I ask my noble friend whether there is any truth in the report that the differences between the United States Government and the Soviet Government on the draft non-proliferation agreement have been narrowed to such an extent that it is now reasonable to assume that there is every prospect of achieving agreement in the next few months?
§ LORD CHALFONT
My Lords, yes, I think I can confirm that. The differences between the Soviet Union and the United States have really been narrowed now to something which, in substance, is only a matter of the safeguards and control of the treaty; and we understand 894 that they have arrived at some arrangement on this matter which will enable them to table a draft treaty quite soon. It is impossible to say how soon; but quite soon. Of course, negotiating that treaty with other countries will be another matter, but the tabling ought not to be too long delayed.