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15 Jul 1996 : Column WA39

Written Answers

Monday, 15 July 1996.

Former Yugoslavia:Arms Sales Licensing Policy

Lord Belhaven and Stenton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the policy on licensing arms exports to the states of the former Yugoslavia, following the lifting of the UN arms embargo.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): On 18th June, the UN Security Council confirmed that the UN arms embargo on former Yugoslavia was terminated in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1021. The Government have decided that, taking into account the overall situation in the states of the former Yugoslavia and the paramount importance of ensuring the safety of British and other troops deployed in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia, applications for arms export licenses will be dealt with on the following basis:

(a) for Slovenia and the former Yugoslavia Republic of Macedonia, applications for licenses to export military equipment listed in group 1 of part III of Schedule 1 to the Export of Goods (Control) Order 1994 and dual-use equipment will be considered on a case by case basis;

(b) for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia our policy is not to allow the export of military equipment listed in group 1 of part III of Schedule 1 to the Export of Goods (Control) Order of 1994 during the period of the NATO-led Implementation Force's deployment. Against that background, applications for export licences will continue to be considered on a case by case basis, as will applications for export of dual-use goods.

The EU as a whole has adopted a common position along these lines. We will keep this policy under review, particularly in light of progress in implementing the peace agreement for Bosnia and Herzegovina.

EU and NATO Enlargement Costs

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in view of the estimate by the US Congressional Budget Office that NATO enlargement could cost between 60 billion and 120 billion dollars, the Answer given by Baroness Chalker of Wallasey on 17th June (WA 1) in which she states that "it is impossible to predict accurately" the costs of NATO or EU enlargement indicates that these enlargements are being pursued without any general understanding of the likely size and distribution of these costs.

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Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The wide range of the estimates made by the Congressional Budget Office underlines that it is impossible to predict the costs of enlargement accurately. In taking forward NATO and EU enlargement we will naturally take full account of the differences between the two organisations and of the financial consequences.

UN Dues: US Arrears

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, given that the United States is now several billion dollars in arrears with its financial commitments to the United Nations and associated organisations, they are content that it should continue to participate in the UN Security Council, including using its power of veto, and in the UN General Assembly, and that US firms should continue to bid for contracts with UN organisations.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: Article 19 of the UN Charter provides that a member state which is in arrears in its financial contributions to the UN shall have no vote in the General Assembly if the amount of its arrears equals or exceeds the amount of contributions due from it for the preceding two full years. There is no comparable provision concerning the Security Council.

British proposals, developed jointly with the French, for UN financial reform includes measures to tighten the application of Article 19 and to strengthen the penalties for non-payers. One of the measures would exclude member states in arrears from bidding for UN contracts.

Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether it is intended that the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty should ban laboratory or computer experiments relating to the improvement of nuclear weapons.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We have made clear our support for a truly comprehensive, "zero yield" Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. We therefore support the scope formula in the chairman's text, which would ban all nuclear weapon test explosions--however small--and all other nuclear explosions.

Tritium

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether tritium will be included in the materials banned by a future fissile material cut-off.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: Formal negotiations to conclude a treaty banning the future production of fissile material for explosive purposes (Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty) have not yet begun. However, tritium is not a fissile material and it will not, therefore, be treated as such in a fissile material cut-off treaty.

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Nuclear Proliferation: Prevention Measures

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether it was agreed among the G8 at the Moscow Summit to work more closely to keep nuclear materials from falling into the "wrong hands"; and, if so, did the list of "wrong hands" include India, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Libya, North Korea, Pakistan, South Korea or Taiwan.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: At the Moscow Nuclear Safety Summit the G8 and Ukraine endorsed a programme for preventing and combating illicit trafficking in nuclear materials. Adherents agreed to improve co-ordination between their governments in all aspects of prevention, detection and prosecution of cases involving nuclear smuggling.

The summit did not identify those countries considered to be of particular proliferation risk.

Outer Space Treaty

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, further to the Answer given by Baroness Chalker of Wallasey on 2nd May (WA 157), they consider the basing of laser and other weapons in space, as currently being developed by the United States, is permitted under the Outer Space Treaty.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: I refer the noble Lord to the Answers which I gave on 2nd May and 26th February.

Mr. James Nichols: Death in Rangoon

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What information they have about the death of Mr. James Nichols an hour after he was transferred from Rangoon's Insein prison to Rangoon General Hospital on the weekend of 21st-22nd June, following his detention in April on a charge of possessing a fax without the permission of the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC); whether the UK will join in action taken by Denmark, Australia, the United States and others to persuade the Burmese authorities to hand over Mr. Nichols' body to his next of kin and to conduct a full and independent inquiry into the circumstances of his death; and whether, in the light of this tragedy, they will issue advice to British tourists who may contemplate visiting Burma about the human rights situation generally under the SLORC regime.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: According to the Burmese authorities, James Leander Nichols died on 22nd June from high blood pressure. In a statement issued together with our EU Partners on 5th July we urged the Burmese authorities to provide a full and satisfactory explanation of the circumstances surrounding the death of Mr. Nichols. The statement also called for an investigation by the United Nations

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Special Rapporteur for Burma. We shall consider possible further action in the light of the response of the Burmese authorities.

The Government have no plans to change the current practice of travel advice, which is to inform potential visitors of the safety aspects of travel to the country concerned.

Burma: GSP Preferences

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in the light of the unexplained death in prison last month of Mr. James Nichols and the continuing gross violations of human rights in Burma, they will support Denmark's request for the revocation of Burma's access to the European Union's Generalised System of Preferences.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We are not aware of any Danish request for the EU to withdraw Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) status for Burma.

However, the European Commission is already undertaking an enquiry, in relation to GSP, into allegations of forced labour in Burma. We await the outcome of the Commission's investigation, which could possibly recommend to the Council that GSP preferences for Burma are suspended in whole or in part.

Human Rights Violation:European Commission Findings

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the statement made by Baroness Blatch on 3rd July 1996 (H.L. Deb., cols. 1567-68), how many allegations of violations of the European Convention on Human Rights were declared admissible by the European Commission on Human Rights against the German Government during the period in which 24 allegations against the United Kingdom were declared admissible; and

    Further to the statement made by Baroness Blatch on 3rd July (H.L. Deb., cols. 1567-68), how many of the 453 applications against the Italian Government declared admissible by the European Commission on Human Rights concerned delay in the determination of criminal or civil proceedings.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch): Information supplied by the Council of Europe indicates that the European Commission on Human Rights declared three allegations of violation admissible against the German Government during 1995.

As regards the substance of allegations declared admissible against Italy, I would refer the noble Lord to the Council of Europe for this information.

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