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8 Dec 1994 : Column WA99

Written Answers

Thursday 8th December 1994

IRAQ: TROOP DEPLOYMENTS

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): Following the deployment of Iraqi troops near the Kuwaiti border in October, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 949, placing clear requirements on Iraq. It demanded the complete withdrawal of recently deployed troops, and warned that Iraq should not use its forces to threaten neighbours or UN personnel.

At the time that Iraq began these deployments, there had been no increase in allied air operations.

UKRAINE: ACCESSION TO NON-PROLIFERATION TREATY

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: No. Ukraine acceded to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty on 5th December.

UKRAINE: SECURITY ASSURANCES

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: Copies of the Memorandum on Security Assurances in connection with Ukraine's accession to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty shall be placed in the Libraries of the House.

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The assurances that we have given concern our commitment to seek immediate Security Council action in certain circumstances involving the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons against Ukraine and the circumstances in which we will not use nuclear weapons against Ukraine as a non-nuclear-weapons state party to the NPT. These assurances are substantially similar to those currently extended by ourselves to other non-nuclear weapons states parties to the NPT.

NON-NUCLEAR STATES: SECURITY ASSURANCES

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether it is now their intention (and that of the United States of America and Russia) to extend written security assurances like those extended to Ukraine to any other non-nuclear state signatory of the treaty that requests them.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The United Kingdom (and the United States of America and Russia) provided similar security assurances to Belarus and Kazakhstan on 5 December.

US NUCLEAR WEAPONS: REMOVAL FROM SOUTH KOREA

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the United States of America will now allow the removal of its nuclear weapons from South Korea to be verified, given that the removal of ex-Soviet nuclear weapons from Ukraine is to be verified.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: That is a matter for the Government of the United States of America.

RWANDA: EU AID

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have received any reports of moves by the Government of France to block the transmission of aid from the European Union to Rwanda; and, if so, what sums are involved and what is their response.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The EU Development Council agreed unanimously, on 25 November, to an action programme costing 67 mecu (£53 million), which focuses on immediate rehabilitation needs in Rwanda.

EMERGENCY PROVISIONS (NORTHERN IRELAND) ACT 1991: REVIEW REPORT

Lord Lyell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have yet received the report of Mr. J. J. Rowe's fundamental review of the Emergency Provisions (Northern Ireland) Act 1991.

Baroness Miller of Hendon: My right honourable and learned friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has received the report and is giving it careful consideration.

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MARRIED QUARTERS ESTATE: PRIVATISATION STUDY

Viscount Davidson asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress they are making with the development of plans for transfer of the married quarters estate to the private sector.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Henley): It is too early to be confident that such a transfer will be possible on terms which will satisfy our requirements. Nonetheless, the initial work undertaken for us by NatWest Markets, the investment bank, has been productive and encouraging. We therefore now intend to progress to development of comprehensive proposals aimed at achieving the transfer in financial year 1995–96. A decision on whether or not to proceed will not be taken until worked-out proposals are available in the first part of next year. Meanwhile, however, following completion of the initial study, we are proceeding to competitive selection of financial and other advisers to help us prepare for and effect the transfer.

OPERATION GRANBY: PROTECTION AGAINST BOTULINUM

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why members of HM Armed Forces were not vaccinated against botulinum when they were aware that Iraq had the capability to manufacture and use biological weapons including anthrax and botulinum prior to Operation Granby (as stated on page ix, paragraph 18 of Lessons Learned from Operation Granby).

Lord Henley: Details of specific medical countermeasures employed by British Forces against the potential biological warfare threat during Operation Granby remain classified.

FUMING NITRIC ACID

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the colour of fuming nitric acid observed by the naked eye; whether fuming nitric acid contains phosgene (ca) and phosgene oxine (cx); and what signs and symptoms they would expect to observe in an individual exposed to a few droplets of liquid nitric acid within five minutes of exposure.

Lord Henley: This is a matter for the Chief Executive of the Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment. I have therefore asked him to reply.

Letter to the Countess of Mar from the Chief Executive of the Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment, Dr. Graham Pearson, dated 8 December 1994:


    1. Your Parliamentary Question to Her Majesty's Government asking what is the colour of fuming nitric acid observed by the naked eye; whether fuming nitric acid contains phosgene (ca) and phosgene oxime (cx); and what signs and symptoms would they

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expect to observe in an individual exposed to a few droplets of liquid nitric acid within five minutes of exposure has been passed to me to answer as Chief Executive of the Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment.


    2. Fuming nitric acid is yellowish in colour and produces yellow brown fumes on exposure to the air. Nitric acid is normally produced by reaction of nitrogen dioxide with water and contains no carbon containing molecules. It does not contain phosgene (for which the code is CG) or phosgene oxime (CX). Neither of these would be stable in fuming nitric acid.


    3. A few droplets of liquid nitric acid on the skin will cause immediate pain and blistering. The fumes from nitric acid will cause immediate irritation and pain in the eye, airway irritation, cough and possibly chest pain.

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether three colour detector paper would respond to exposure to fuming nitric acid, and if so, what colour will it show.

Lord Henley: Three colour detector paper is designed to respond to liquid CW agent by turning red (blister), yellow (non persistent nerve) or green (persistent nerve) depending on the agent; it will not respond to vapour. Application of liquid concentrated nitric or liquid "fuming" nitric acid to the paper would result only in a darkening of the area contaminated by the liquid which would not be interpreted as an agent response.

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether Computer-Aided Measurement and Control (CAM) monitors are designed to detect nitric acid, and if so, what reading would they expect to find on a CAM monitor directed at fuming nitric acid.

Lord Henley: We have no record of a Computer Aided Measurement and Control instrument in the inventory of any United Kingdom Service; it is assumed that the question refers to the Chemical Agent Monitor (CAM). CAM is not designed to detect fuming nitric acid. Laboratory tests have, however, shown that if the instrument is exposed to the concentrated brown fumes from fuming nitric acid then a reading might be achieved indicating the presence of a low concentration of H (blister) agent.


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