HC Deb 29 November 1990 vol 181 c482W
Mr. Cohen

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on exercises carried out by his Department into the verification of the proposed chemical weapons convention.

Mr. Archie Hamilton

The Ministry of Defence, in co-operation with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, has recently completed a two-year programme of six practice challenge inspections at Government-owned facilities. The objectives of the practice challenge inspections programme were to test our ability to demonstrate compliance with a chemical weapons convention while at the same time protecting our legitimate national security interests, particularly at sensitive sites, and to draw any useful lessons on challenge inspection for the chemical weapons convention negotiations in Geneva. A paper describing the outcome of the practice challenge inspections programme was tabled at the conference on disarmament in Geneva last July by my right hon. Friend the then Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, and copies are being placed in the Library of the House.

The paper has been widely welcomed as a further positive United Kingdom contribution to the negotiations. The United Kingdom was the first country to embark on practical work on challenge inspection and we are encouraged that others have since followed our example.

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