HC Deb 11 July 2002 vol 388 cc1132-3W
Llew Smith

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will set out the types of circumstances in which he has judged it would be legal for the United Kingdom to use nuclear weapons; and whether it is United Kingdom policy never to be the first to use nuclear weapons. [68612]

Mr. Hoon

As the Government have made clear on many occasions, we would be prepared to use nuclear weapons only in extreme circumstances of self-defence. We would not use our weapons, whether conventional or nuclear, contrary to international law.

A policy of no first use of nuclear weapons would be incompatible with our and NATO's doctrine of deterrence, nor would it further nuclear disarmament objectives. We have made clear, as have our NATO allies, that the circumstances in which any use of nuclear weapons might have to be contemplated are extremely remote. Our overall strategy is to ensure uncertainty in the mind of any aggressor about the exact nature of our response, and thus to maintain effective deterrence.