HC Deb 13 January 1998 vol 304 cc192-3W
Mr. Livingstone

To ask the President of the Board of Trade what work her Department is currently carrying out to support and implement arms control treaties in the fields of(a) chemical weapons and (b) nuclear weapons; and if she will make a statement. [22510]

Mrs. Roche

My Department is responsible for implementing the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in the UK. The legislative basis for this work is the Chemical Weapons Act 1996 and the President of the Board of Trade will be submitting shortly to Parliament her annual report on the operation of the Act. My Department co-ordinates the preparation of annual UK declarations to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), receives teams of international inspectors from the OPCW to verify the UK declarations and licenses the possession, use, production, import and export of certain chemicals listed in the Convention. An official in my Department has been appointed as the UK Representative on the Executive Council of the OPCW and my officials also participate in bilateral meetings and training courses aimed at helping other countries with their national implementation of the CWC.

The FCO has lead responsibility in the UK for the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). However, my Department is responsible for ensuring that the UK meets is commitments under the 1978 safeguards agreement concluded with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Euratom in connection with the NPT under which the UK undertook to accept IAEA safeguards on all civil nuclear materials in facilities within the UK.

An official in my Department represents the UK on the Board of Governors of the IAEA and in that capacity is involved in all formal decisions of the IAEA including in the field of safeguards.

The IAEA safeguards system is now being strengthened following the agreement by the Board of Governors of the IAEA in May 1997 of a model protocol additional to existing safeguards agreements. The DTI took the lead for the UK in negotiating this model protocol. My Department is currently engaged in the negotiation of an additional protocol to the UK's existing safeguards agreement based on the model protocol and specific commitments given by the UK Governor to the IAEA when the model was adopted.