HC Deb 21 December 1972 vol 848 cc470-2W
Miss Joan Hall

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has yet received a reply from the Soviet authorities to his request for their co-operation in establishing the origin and the channel of supply of rockets found in Northern Ireland.

2. Mr. Amery

An oral reply was delivered to me by the Soviet Chargé d'Affaires on 20th December.

After certain phrases from this reply had been disclosed to the Press by the Soviet Embassy, I decided that the exchange should be published in full. The texts are as follows:

Oral statement made by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to the Soviet Embassy on 6th December: The Soviet Embassy may have seen Press reports about the use of rockets by terrorists in Northern Ireland. During a series of rocket attacks on 28th and 29th November, for example, a policeman was killed and seven British soldiers were injured. One such rocket with its launcher was captured from the terrorists. Certain markings on both the rocket and the launcher appear to be in the Russian language or in cyrillic characters. Photographs and descriptions are being supplied. Her Majesty's Government are naturally very concerned about the supply of arms to terrorists operating in the United Kingdom. A number of Governments have already co-operated with us in tracing the source of such supplies. In the same spirit we should be grateful if the Soviet authorities could be asked to confirm whether the rocket and launcher shown in the photographs were manufactured in the Soviet Union. If so, we should be interested in any suggestion that the Soviet authorities may be able to offer as to how these pieces of military equipment found their way from their place of manufacture in the Soviet Union into the hands of terrorists in Northern Ireland. It would be appreciated if the Soviet authorities could be asked to treat this request as a matter of urgency, bearing in mind that such rockets continue to be the cause of deaths and injuries in the United Kingdom.

Oral statement made by the Soviet Chargé d'Affaires to the Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Mr. Julian Amery, on 20th December: I am instructed to draw the attention of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to the slanderous campaign carried on in this country with regard to 'Soviet weapons in Northern Ireland'. In Moscow they could not fail to notice that this hullabaloo is fanned up by official statements and by an irrelevant approach by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to the Soviet Embassy. The Soviet side rejects this approach by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as a step which has nothing in common with the aim of developing Anglo-Soviet relations and which in fact does serious harm to them.

Details of a second weapon were supplied to the Soviet Embassy on 15th December. On both occasions the embassy representative took note of the markings, but declined to accept copies of the photographs.

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