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Arms Exports to the Netherlands

Lord Peston asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): We recently approved the export to the Netherlands of 2,500 rounds of CS gas and

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target-practice shotgun ammunition for use in riot-control by Dutch UN armed forces in Bosnia. Given that the ammunition is needed to support peace-keeping activities in Bosnia and that it is important that UN forces in Bosnia, which include British troops, are able to protect themselves, we were glad to be able to approve this export as an exception to our interpretation of the EU arms embargo on the former Yugoslavia. This decision does not affect our continued support of the EU common position on arms exports to the former Yugoslavia.

US Missiles: Developments

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider that the work described in a recent United States Department of Energy document on upgrading and replacing the B-61 gravity bomb, the W-87 warhead for air-launched missiles and the W-76 and W-88 warhead for submarine-launched Trident missiles may amount to a breach of the provisions of the comprehensive test ban treaty and of Article VI of the non-proliferation treaty, for both of which the United Kingdom is a depository power.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The depository of the comprehensive test ban treaty is the United Nations Secretary-General. We have no reason to believe that any developments proposed by the United States are in any way in breach of their obligations under the non-proliferation treaty or the comprehensive test ban treaty.

Weapons in Space

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider the siting of weapons in space should be a subject of preventive diplomacy by the United Nations or by any other party; and

    Why successive British Governments have voted against or abstained from resolutions in the United Nations General Assembly on "preventing an arms race in outer space" (PAROS); and whether in future they will support such resolutions.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We have made clear that we have no objection to re-establishing an Ad-Hoc Committee at the Conference on Disarmament on this issue. Together with other European Union member states, we abstained on the United Nations General Assembly resolution on this issue because we did not wish to prejudge the outcome of further debate within the Conference on Disarmament.

I cannot comment on the position taken by previous governments on this issue.

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have given any undertakings to the United States not to object to its current research and development programmes for the siting of weapons

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    in space as announced in the Quadrennial Defense Review and other official documents of the United States Administration.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: No such undertakings have been given.

Turkish/Israeli Military Collaboration

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What information Turkey has given to its fellow members of NATO about the scope and purpose of its military collaborations with Israel.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The Turkish Government has given no specific briefings to NATO partners on its military collaboration with Israel. However, in bilateral contacts, Turkey has outlined the areas in which it sought to develop its contacts with the Israeli defence forces. These include defence industry co-operation, and search and rescue exercises.

The Turkish authorities have also made clear that their co-operation with Israel is not directed against any third country.

NATO

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their response to the United States proposals for the "transformation" of NATO (President Clinton, International Herald Tribune, 17 December) into an organisation which is globally active and United States-led.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We are not aware of any statement by President Clinton on the lines referred to in the noble Lord's Question. However we agree with Mrs. Albright's remarks, quoted in the International Herald Tribune of 17 December that "the United States and Europe will certainly face challenges beyond Europe's shores"; "our nations share global interests that require us to work together with the same degree of solidarity as we have long maintained in the continent".

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether NATO, as experienced and supported by successive British Governments over recent decades, or the "transformed" NATO currently being advanced by the United States as an element in its own "global strategy", which would extend NATO's responsibilities into the Caspian Oil Province and into the Middle East, is "the bedrock of European security and a key component in our foreign and defence policies", as stated by Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean on 9 December (WA18).

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: As I informed the noble Lord in my Written Answer of 9 December, we have consistently made clear our wholehearted commitment to NATO.

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Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answers by Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean on 9 December (WA 17-19), whether it is now being proposed by the United States to its NATO allies that NATO's area of operations be extended to the Middle East and to dealing there with weapons of mass destruction; and, if it is so proposed, whether the proposal includes monitoring the uses Israel may make of its nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, including chemical weapons such as those recently used by its forces in Amman.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: NATO has no defined area of operations and the United States has not proposed creating one.

In her speech to the North Atlantic Council on 16 December, Secretary Albright expressed concern at the threat from the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. We share that concern and are strongly committed to preventing such proliferation. We shall pursue this vigorously in close co-operation with our allies and partners, with the aim of maintaining and strengthening the relevant treaties and supplier regimes.

Iraq: Further Military Action

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they agree with the United States Administration that further military action against Iraq does not need further United Nations Security Council authority, or with the French Government, which says that it does.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: If Saddam Hussein reverted to a policy of obstructing UNSCOM operations, as witnessed in November, this would be a clear breach of Iraq's obligations under Security Council resolutions. We would continue to pursue a diplomatic solution but could not rule out military action as a last resort.

Relations with Unconstitutional Regimes: Policy

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether their policy on dealing with regimes which came into power unconstitutionally remains as stated by Lord Carrington on 28 April 1980 (HL Deb, cols. 1121-1122).

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: It does. We recognise states, not governments. We decide the nature of our dealings with regimes which come to power unconstitutionally in the light of our assessment of whether they are able of themselves to exercise effective control of the territory of the state concerned, and seem likely to continue to do so.

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Governments in Exile: UK Support

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What criteria they apply in deciding whether to support governments in exile, either politically or financially; and why they have given £130,000 to former President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah of Sierra Leone and nothing to former President Pascal Lissouba of Congo Brazzaville.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Where democratic governments have been overthrown by violence we have often worked with them in exile as part of our global support for democracy. Tejan Kabbah is not the "former" President of Sierra Leone; he remains the legitimate leader of that country, whereas the outbreak of civil war in June 1997 in Congo (Brazzaville) resulted in the cancellation of the presidential election and the subsequent expiry of President Lissouba's mandate in August 1997. Moreover, although the UK was a principal donor to Sierra Leone before the coup--and hopes to be again after the restoration of constitutional order there--we have not had a bilateral aid relationship with the Republic of the Congo for many years.

Pakistan: Penal Code

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will propose that the European Union issue a demarche on the 25 year prison sentences passed against three Ahmadis under Section 295(C) of the penal code in Pakistan and on the use of this provision in the law in general.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Our High Commission in Islamabad are investigating why Section 295(C) of the penal code was invoked in this instance, and the prospects for appeal. The EU raised its concerns about the situation faced by religious minorities and the blasphemy laws with the Pakistan Government on 15 December.


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