HL Deb 10 June 1986 vol 476 c248WA
Lord Gainford

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What steps have been taken by them to prevent the use of chemical weapons in the Iran/Iraq war.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Young)

Following the first confirmation in March 1984 of the use of chemical weapons in the Gulf conflict, the UK imposed controls on the export of five chemicals which were capable of being misused to make such weapons. Similar controls have also been imposed by a number of other countries. The UK has kept these controls under continuous review since their introduction, and they now cover 10 chemicals.

In addition, a longer list of chemicals has been drawn up as a result of international consultation, to indicate other chemicals which can be used to manufacture lethal chemical agents. This warning list is intended to supplement these formal controls and is being issued to the UK chemical industry and to chemical traders. It will provide an aid to industry, by alerting it to the possible dangers of misuse of these chemicals and to enable industry to take action on a voluntary basis in case of doubt or suspicion. The list is being introduced into 18 countries (the 12 EC member states, US, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Norway) and is intended to inhibit the spread of chemical weapons. At the same time there is no intention of interfering in the widespread normal and legitimate civil trade in many of the chemicals on the list.

The warning list reflects a determination by all the countries concerned to enhance the authority of the 1925 Geneva Protocol and to prevent any damage to the prospects for the negotiations in Geneva for a comprehensive ban on all chemical weapons.