HC Deb 26 May 2004 vol 421 cc1695-6W
Llew Smith

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the United Kingdom retains quantities of sarin nerve agent for use in prophylactic research purposes. [175176]

Mr. Ingram

The Chemical Weapons Convention prohibits the use of any toxic chemical except for permitted purposes. The United Kingdom, as a state form an integral part of the overall research programme to provide the UK and its armed forces with safe and effective protection in the event of chemical or biological weapons being used and are conducted under the terms of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986.

party to this Convention, is permitted to hold an aggregate of up to one tonne of Schedule 1 chemicals (those that pose the highest risk to the Convention) at any one time, for research, medical, pharmaceutical or protective purposes.

As part of this holding, the UK does possess an amount of the chemical sarin, which is used for protective purposes, namely those purposes directly related to protection against toxic chemicals and to protection against chemical weapons, and for research purposes.

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