HC Deb 21 January 1987 vol 108 cc591-2W
2. Mr. Cartwright

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he next expects to receive a report from the United States Administration on the progress of the arms control talks in Geneva.

Sir Geoffrey Howe

We are in close and regular contact with the United States Administration on the full range of arms control issues, including the nuclear and space talks at Geneva. I discussed these issues thoroughly with Mr. Shultz 10 days ago and shall be seeing Mr. Kampelman tomorrow.

73. Mr. Nicholls

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on progress with arms control negotiations with the Soviet Union.

Mr. Renton

The sixth round of the US—Soviet nuclear and space talks began in Geneva on 15 January. We have maintained our close consultations with the US on the issues raised by these talks. After the Reykjavik meeting between President Reagan and Mr. Gorbachev, the Prime Minister and President Reagan agreed at Camp David on priorities for the way ahead:

  1. (i) an INF agreement, with restraints on shorter range systems
  2. (ii) a 50 per cent. cut over 5 years in US and Soviet strategic offensive weapons
  3. (iii) a ban on chemical weapons.

In all cases effective verification would be essential.

In the area of strategic defence we support the SDI research programme which is permitted by the ABM treaty, and have consulted closely with the US on its handling on the Geneva negotiations. Soviet insistence on making agreement on all issues, including INF, dependent on their demands on SDI is illogical and unacceptable.

The 40th round of the mutual and balanced force reduction (MBFR) talks ended on 4 December 1986 with the East still refusing to give a serious response to the major Western initiative of December 1985. In this we proposed that reductions in forces go ahead before any exchange of information on forces, and that the dispute over existing force levels be resolved in the course of checking compliance. The next round opens on 29 January.

On chemical weapons, the intersessional work of the United Kingdom-chaired committee at the Conference on Disarmament has made further progress towards a total ban.

I visited the Soviet Union on 13–18 January and arms control was among the subjects discussed. My right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, will visit the Soviet Union in the spring.

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