HC Deb 15 March 2002 vol 381 cc1298-300W
Mr. Love

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the Government's policy is regarding(a) exports to nuclear and nuclear-related end users in India and Pakistan and (b) contacts with India and Pakistan relating to their nuclear programmes. [44337]

Mr. Bradshaw

As the then Foreign Office Minister of State, my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Central (Mr. Lloyd) made clear on 10 July 1998,Official Report, column 687, many countries including the UK have in place strict controls on the export of nuclear-related goods to India and Pakistan. The UK also exercises caution over contacts between personnel from the British nuclear industry and their Indian and Pakistani counterparts. Current tensions between India and Pakistan demonstrate the need for both countries to exercise restraint.

The events of 11 September highlighted the fact that some terrorist groups will use any means to achieve their ends. We know that Osama bin Laden and the al-Qaeda network have shown an interest in developing chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. To ensure that such ambitions are not realised, we are encouraging all countries, including India and Pakistan, to take all steps necessary to ensure the better physical protection of their nuclear assets. We will be encouraging both countries to consider measures which contribute to the safety and security of their nuclear programmes.

Bearing these factors in mind, and consistent with our obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, we have revised our policy as follows:—

we will continue to deny all export licence applications (ELAs) for items listed on the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) Dual-Use List to nuclear and nuclear related end users in India and Pakistan. We will consider all applications for other items assessed as licensable, including those licensable under the WMD end use control, with particular vigilance in making licensing decisions on a case by case basis. Licences may be issued if there are no end use concerns. Consistent with our obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, licences may also be issued in exceptional cases where the Government is satisfied that the proposed exports will contribute to the physical protection or security of civil or military nuclear facilities or assets in India and Pakistan;

we will continue to discourage contacts by UK nuclear scientists or those working in the UK nuclear industry with their counterparts from, or personnel who we know are likely to work in, nuclear or nuclear related organisations in India or Pakistan. We will also discourage visits by such counterparts and personnel to UK nuclear facilities. However, this will not apply where such contacts would contribute to the safety and security of India and Pakistan's nuclear programmes, or further the UK's non-proliferation objectives, consistent with our obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Since carrying out their nuclear tests in 1998, neither India nor Pakistan have demonstrated sufficient commitment to meet their obligations to reduce nuclear tensions set down in UNSCR 1172. We are now encouraging both countries to engage in a bilateral dialogue on nuclear confidence building measures.