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20 Jan 1999 : Column WA99

Written Answers

Wednesday, 20th January 1999.

South Korea

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the United Nations Security Council has discussed the South Korean contribution to the costs of maintaining United States troops stationed in South Korea under the auspices of the United Nations, which contribution the United States has recently proposed should be increased.[HL454]

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: United States troops are based in South Korea in peacetime under US national command arrangements and a bilateral cost sharing agreement between the US and ROK governments. The US authorities do not involve the UN Security Council in these arrangements. The annual report by the United Nations Command to the Security Council only covers the United Nations Command.

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the United Nations Security Council or the United Nations Secretary-General are informed when United States troops present in South Korea under United Nations auspices undertake military exercises either alone or together with other forces such as the Japanese Self-Defence Forces.[HL455]

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: The US troops based in Korea are part of the US national peacetime command structure. They conduct exercises under US national arrangements, and are not under United Nations Command in peacetime. Neither the UN Security Council nor the UN Secretary-General are, therefore, involved in military exercises or their planning.

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in the light of the European Union's substantial contribution to the Korea Energy Development Organisation (KEDO), and of the United Nations' auspices under which United States forces are currently in South Korea, they will ensure the United States Administration is aware of their views during the current "Review of policy towards North Korea", which is being conducted by former United States Secretary of Defense, William Perry.[HL456]

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: Her Majesty's Government maintain close contact with the United States in both Washington and Seoul concerning the Korean peninsula. The United States Government is well informed of our views.

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they support the "sunshine policy" now being pursued by the Government of South Korea towards North Korea.[HL459]

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Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: Her Majesty's Government strongly support President Kim Dae-jung's policy of engagement towards North Korea.

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they support the United States plan to maintain a permanent military presence in South Korea in the event of reunification on the Korean peninsula; whether the American troops would be under the United Nations Command as are the United States troops currently based in South Korea; and whether the United Nations Security Council will examine the plan.[HL516]

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: The possible stationing of US forces on the Korean peninsula in the event of reunification would be a matter for the United States and the Koreans to resolve.

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Rimpac exercises carried out in the vicinity of the Korean peninsula in July 1998 involved the United Nations Command in South Korea; and whether they consider that these exercises contributed to the solution of the problems of the Korean peninsula.[HL517]

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: The Rimpac exercise in July 1998 did not involve the United Nations Command. The exercise was not designed to address the problems of the Korean peninsula.

Spratly Islands

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    To which country the Spratly Islands belong.[HL518]

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: The Spratlys are claimed in whole or part by China, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei. All except Brunei have established a military presence there, but all have declared their intention to resolve claims peacefully.

Her Majesty's Government support no claimant and have encouraged peaceful resolution.

North Korea

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What instructions they gave to the British Brigadier-General who took part in discussions earlier this year between the North Korean Government and the Military Armistice Commission; and what did he report.[HL458]

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: In 1998, after a break in the regular Military Armistice Commission meetings of seven years, the Korean People's Army agreed to hold talks at General Officer level with the United Nations Command. Three meetings took place (23 June, 30 June and 16 July). The (Brigadier rank)

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Defence Attache at the British Embassy in Seoul, in his capacity as UK Representative to the Commander-in-Chief United Nations Command, represented the UK and was briefed by British authorities beforehand. He reported fully to the Government on the talks. There have been no such meetings this year.

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the United States has discussed with the European Union, as a contributor to the Korea Energy Development Organisation (KEDO), its reported thinking about attacking with United Nations troops certain North Korean constructions which the United States suspects might eventually have military implications and the new "contingency plans" ("Operation Plans 027") of the forces under United Nations auspices for an attack on North Korea; and, if so, what legal basis was quoted for such an attack.[HL457]

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: No.

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the United States has discussed with all Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organisation contributors attacking certain North Korean constructions which the United States suspects might eventually have military implications.[HL519]

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: There has been no such discussion with the UK.

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the United States has discussed with the United Nations Security Council attacking certain North Korean constructions which the United States suspects might eventually have military implications, and its contingency plans for attacking North Korea.[HL520]

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: No.

Indonesia: Death of Journalists

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have reopened the investigation into the killings of five journalists, including two Britons, at Balibo in Indonesia; and what action they intend to take to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice.[HL533]

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: We remain in close contact with the relatives of the deceased journalists, and Ministers met them last year. My right honourable friend the Minister of State, Mr. Fatchett, raised the matter with President Habibie in October and the President undertook to look into the matter again. The Australian Government have now invited Mr. Tom Sherman, who earlier conducted a comprehensive investigation of the incident, to study new material that has become available and report back. We welcome this and have no plans to hold our own enquiry.

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Iraq

Lord McNair asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What measures have been taken to enforce sanctions against Iraq since the Gulf War; and how much confidence they have in the effectiveness of international sanctions against Iraq.[HL478]

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: It is the responsibility of individual governments to take the necessary measures to enforce the sanctions regime against Iraq. We make regular representations to Iraq's neighbours and to other countries on the importance of strict enforcement of the regime. Royal Navy vessels participate with other countries in operations in the Gulf to reduce sanctions-busting trade.

On the whole, we believe the sanctions regime is well enforced. It has done much to contain the threat posed by the regime of Saddam Hussein for over seven years.

Lord McNair asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the physical restrictions upon entry and exit from Iraq that have been in force since the Gulf War; which airports, seaports and land routes allow access and departure from Iraq; and how these are monitored.[HL479]

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: The resolutions imposing sanctions on Iraq do not prohibit the movement of persons to or from Iraq.

UN Security Council Resolution 670 (1990) lays down certain restrictions on flights to and from Iraq for the purpose of ensuring the proper implementation of the sanctions resolutions.

Lord McNair asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether it was possible for several hundred SCUD missiles systems to have evaded international sanctions and to have left Iraq since the end of the Gulf War, as reported in February 1998 by the United States Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare.[HL480]

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: Her Majesty's Government believe this to be highly unlikely. Of the 819 SCUD missiles imported by Iraq from the (then) Soviet Union, the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) has reported that it has accounted for 817.

Nonetheless, we remain concerned about substantial gaps in Iraq's disclosures to UNSCOM on its Weapons of Mass Destruction capability. We cannot rule out the possibility that some transfer of missiles and missile technology has occurred, but we believe that any such transfer would have been on a small scale.


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