HL Deb 28 June 1988 vol 498 c1582WA
Viscount Mersey

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is their policy on the further limitations of nuclear weapons tests.

The Minister of State for Defence Procurement (Lord Trefgarne)

For the foreseeable future the United Kingdom's security will depend on deterrence based in part on the possession of nuclear weapons. That will mean a continuing requirement to conduct underground nuclear tests to ensure that our nuclear weapons remain effective and up to date.

We hope the peaceful nuclear explosions treaty and the threshold test ban treaty will be ratified soon. Further steps to limit tests will then have to be considered. But serious technical problems of verification remain. As thresholds are reduced verification becomes more important but also more difficult. A comprehensive test ban remains a longterm goal. Progress will be made only by a step-by-step approach. This must take account of technical advances on verification as well as progress elsewhere in arms control and the attitude of other states.