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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, with the leave of the House, I shall now repeat a Statement on Libya being made in another place by my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary. The Statement is as follows:
"Libya is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Biological Weapons Convention. But we had long been concerned about Libya's proliferation activities, which could potentially have posed a threat to the region, and might put Libya in breach of its international obligations.
"Furthermore, there have been the profound concerns about two Libyan acts of terrorism in the 1980sthe Pan Am flight destroyed over Lockerbie in December 1988, and the murder of WPC Fletcher in April 1984. For several years we have been engaged in discussions with the Libyan authorities to resolve these two issues. These discussions led to the trialunder Scots law, but in the Hagueof Libyan citizens accused of offences in connection with the Lockerbie outrage and much more recently to Libya agreeing to pay compensation to the families of those killed at Lockerbie. The Libyans have accepted full responsibility for the action of their officials and the matter reported to the Security Council with UNSC sanctions lifted by SCR 1506 on 12 September.
"An important aspect of the Lockerbie discussions was Libya's categorical renunciation of terrorism and pledge to co-operate in the international fight against terrorism. Diplomatic relations with Libya were restored in 1999 by my right honourable friend the Member for Livingston. In 2002, my honourable friend the Member for North Warwickshire, then Parliamentary Under-Secretary in the FCO, visited Libya and held fruitful discussions with Colonel Gaddafi. Last year we concluded both a cultural and a transport agreement. More recently, on 30 December Libya repaid £20 million of debt it owed to our Exports Credits Guarantee Department.
"This process of engagement provided the backdrop for the discussions on Libya's weapons programmes which began with an approach to us by Libya in March of last year. At Libyan request these discussions took place in the strictest secrecy.
"Nine months of work by officials and experts from the United States and the United Kingdom then followed. Libya acknowledged to us that it was developing a nuclear fuel cycle intended to support nuclear weapons development. A team of British and American officials were given access to projects at more than 10 sites. These projects included uranium enrichment. Libya had not yet developed a nuclear weapon, but was on the way to doing so.
"The team of British and American specialists was given access to scientists at research centres with dual-use potential to support biological weapons-related work. And Libya has provided access to facilities where missile research and development work had been conducted.
"As a result of these discussions, my right honourable friend the Prime Minister, United States President Bush and the Libyan Foreign Minister, Abdulrahman Shalgam on behalf of Colonel Gaddafi made parallel public statements on 19 December. I am
"of its own free will . . . to eliminate these materials, equipments and programmes so that Libya may be completely free of internationally proscribed weapons".
"Within their respective remits, the responsibility for verifying Libya's declarations lies with the IAEA and the OPCW, and it is for the Libyan authorities to inform these organisations about the details of their programmes.
"I have been in close touch with Dr Mohammed El Baradei, the Director-General of the IAEA, and I spoke to him again this morning. He took a team to Libya last week and visited a number of sites. There will be a report to the next meeting of the IAEA board of governors in March.
"This agreement represents a successful outcome for the engagement by the US and the UK with Libya over a long period. We have, I believe, established a relationship of trust, which has enabled Libya first to renounce terrorism and now to renounce the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. I greatly applaud the remarks of Foreign Minister Shalgam in which he said:
'Libya's belief is that an arms race does not serve its security nor the security of the region, but conflicts with Libya's over-arching goal of a world where security and peace hold sway'.
"It is always better to resolve issues by negotiation and agreement when possible. But for that to happen, it is necessary to have a partner with whom to negotiate. Over the past five years, we have built a relationship with Libya that has enabled us together to take an important step towards reducing the threat of weapons of mass destruction".
Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, your Lordships will be grateful to the noble Baroness for repeating that Statement from the Foreign Secretary on Libya. On balance, we welcome Libya's decision to come clean about its weapons of mass destruction programme, its missiles of more than 300 kilometre range and its chemical weapons programmes. That is undoubtedly one step forward in shoring up and refreshing the world's now shaky non-proliferation treaty regime, which is in need of strengthening and reinforcement.
However, going further than that and christening General Gaddafi as a statesman with whom we can do business is surely going a little too far. A few weeks back, our job was apparently to fight a war on terrorism and to fight for democracy everywhere. This week, General Gaddafi is now in favour, who is not noted for his enthusiasm for democracy and has had little to do with the democratic system during his 34 years in office. After all, he has presided over the country that gave us the murder of Yvonne Fletcher in St James's Squareas the noble Baroness reminded us, the killer has still not been handed over or identifiedand the Lockerbie horror, which the noble Baroness mentioned. His regime provided the IRA with Semtex, weapons and other forms of support.
Indeed, at this moment, as far as I know, the Libyan regime provides Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwean leadershipthe illegal regime therewith oil. I heard nothing about it in the Statement, but I presume that during the negotiations of the past five years, or whatever, we have insisted on one condition being that that process stops: that oil should no longer be provided to the illegal Zimbabwe regime. Can we be assured that that has been examined and that condition applied, or at least discussed, because hearing nothing about it in the Statement is worrying?
There is then the general question of sanctions. The UN has now voted to lift sanctions on Libya, but the United States has not yet done so. Can we be clear where we stand on the matter and what is our assessment of the likelihood of the US lifting sanctions in the near future?
As the noble Baroness reminded us, over the years General Gaddafi has imported centrifuge equipment to make highly enriched uraniumU 235according to reports this morning, apparently from Pakistan. However, I understand that the Libyans had difficulty screwing together the various parts of the centrifuge equipment and had not reached the enrichment phase, although they were on the way. Will we now receive more information about the underworld of nuclear
As I said, overall we welcome the prodigal, if I may put it that way, but with prudent caution, I urgeperhaps with a little more caution than the more exuberant statements of the Foreign Secretary have demonstrated. Above all, we should insist on thorough verification at all phases of that opening up to ensure that it is really happening and monitor rigorously to ensure that that unreliable, maverick dictator, who has changed sides, directions, opinions and alliances many times, will this time live up to his word.
Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, we on these Benches also welcome the Statementwith slightly fewer reservations than have been expressed from the Conservative Benches. The development is thoroughly welcome; we hope that it will be followed by other successful negotiations. We all acknowledge that the development of weapons of mass destruction is a real threat to world order and that any successful negotiation that leads a country to renounce nuclear weapons is therefore unreservedly desirable.
My noble friend Lord Roper and I were just discussing how many of us have been following the relationship with Libya with close attention ever since, 20 years ago, we were three doors from the Libyan embassy. I was watching the demonstration outside the Libyan embassy on 20 April 1984 and saw WPC Fletcher being shot. That was not an easy thing to cope with.
Libya has not only been promoting weapons of mass destruction, it has, as the noble Lord, Lord Howell, remarked, been actively supporting terrorist groups and destabilising regimes across Africa, and not only supporting the regime in Zimbabwe. I am surprised that the noble Lord described that regime as illegalit is illegitimate perhaps, but not, I think, illegal. I was in southern Africa last week, and my latest information is that the Libyans are no longer supporting the Zimbabweans, simply because the Zimbabwean debt to Libya is now so large that they have given up extending credit.
However, the Libyan role in west Africa has also been extremely damaging. Its active support for Charles Taylor and destabilising efforts in Cote d'Ivoire and Sierra Leone are also matters with which we are properly concerned. I should be grateful if the Minister could confirm that that dimension of Libyan foreign policy has also been covered in the negotiations and that Libyan intervention in the tangled affairs of west Africa is now moderated.
We recognise that weapons of mass destruction are a major problem elsewhere in the world. The noble Lord, Lord Howell, referred to the problem of Pakistan as a supplier. Today's reports confirm what had been widely suggested for many years. He also raised the question of Brazil. As the issue is especially
We especially welcome the involvement of multilateral institutionsthe IAEA and OPCWand want the Government to assure us that the United States is as committed to multilateral engagement, to strengthening the role of international institutions, as Her Majesty's Government appear to be. We welcome particularly the successful use of measures short of warsanctions, diplomacy, carrots and sticks, incentives and penaltiesand their proven success in this case. Will the Minister confirm that the negotiations started before the invasion of Iraq?
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I thank both noble Lords for their welcome of the Statement, albeit that the noble Lord, Lord Howell of Guildford, was marginally more guarded in his welcome than the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire.
This is an important step forward, but I stress to the noble Lord, Lord Howell of Guildford, that it is not the first step that Libya has taken in the right direction. The Statement was not exuberant, as the noble Lord characterised it; if anything, it erred on the side of flatness in how it laid out the history regarding Libya. Some of that history has been very lamentable, such as Lockerbie and the murder of WPC Fletcher.
The Statement also tried to point out how the relationship has developed over the past five yearsvery cautiously, with the developments of the Lockerbie trial and the compensation for the murder of WPC Fletcher. As the Statement pointed out, the murderers have still not been brought to justice. In all that, it is important to remind ourselves, as the noble Lord didthe Statement did, toonot only of the history, but of the progress that there has been in normalising the international relationship.
Although the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, picked up the following enormously important point, the noble Lord, Lord Howell of Guildford, did not do so in quite the same way: the current position does not rely on trust or statements about statesmanship; it relies on proper mechanisms for implementation through the international agencies, the IAEA and the OPCW. I thank the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, for acknowledging that point.
Both noble Lords referred to Zimbabwe. We have made Libya aware of our views on its relationship with Zimbabwe, but I am sure that both noble Lords will have noticed that my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary is inviting Foreign Minister Shalgam to the United Kingdom shortly. I am sure that that bilateral issue will be an important point in the discussions that will take place then.
The noble Lord asked, now that the United Nations sanctions have been lifted, about the United States sanctions. That is a matter for the United States of America. They will have to decide how they think the international agencies have done in the verification of Libya's undertakings. Libya has also agreed to sign the chemical protocol as well as the biological one, to which it has already put its name. I am sure that the United States will wish to scrutinise how the monitoring is carried out and that they will have many questions. As I am sure both noble Lords are aware, a European Union arms embargo is still in place.
Both noble Lords asked about other clandestine programmes of weapons of mass destruction. I agree with them that it is enormously important to pursue, both with the countries where we believe that weapons programmes are in progress and through the international agencies, ways to get other countries into the sort of negotiations that we have managed to conduct with the Libyans over the past nine months or so. The Statement referred to the fact that the Iranians have now entered such a process with the IAEA.
The noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, raised several issues similar to those raised by the noble Lord, Lord Howell of Guildford, which I hope that I have covered. In particular, he raised the question of whether Israel was one of the other states that may have nuclear weapons programmes. I make no exception regarding Israel. Israel has never admitted to such programmes, but it is important that, where we have reason to believe that we should enter into negotiations with a statenot only Israel, there are other stateswe should do so if at all possible. That is the right course to pursue but, as the Statement makes clear, it is possible to do so only where there is a willing partner with whom to have such negotiations.
In my recent travels in the Middle East, I raised not only the issues of weapons of mass destruction but also issues surrounding the control of terrorism. We all understand that those are dual threats. It is important to get a number of states around the world to participate more fully and more robustly in dealing with the dual threats of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction programmes.
The noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, asked whether the negotiations had begun before or after the invasion of Iraq. I cannot give the exact dates. If the noble Lord's point is that the negotiations were not spurred by what was happening over Iraq, we could argue the point either way. Whether it was just before or just after, much pressure was being brought to bear on Iraq at the time. The basic point is that, where there is a willing partner, it is possible to deal with these dreadful weapons programmes through negotiation and without resort to any military conflict. If that was the noble Lord's point, I agree with him entirely.
Lord Judd: My Lords, I, for one, side myself completely with those who wish to place on record appreciation of and congratulations to Ministers and officials who have worked so tirelessly on this very
The noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, specifically mentioned Israel. Does my noble friend accept that Israel is not just another case to be examined, but a crucial case, if stability is to be promoted in the region and internationally? My noble friend's response was encouraging, but it would be good to hear that some priority was being given to the matter because of its immense significance.
In the long run, our credibility in this sort of operation, which is so much to be applauded, will be related to how far the world can see that we, the United States and France are ourselves committed to reducing our dependence on weapons of mass destruction, nuclear weapons and the rest, and reducing nuclear arsenals. That commitment that we have given in the past will come under increasing scrutiny as we take initiatives of this kind. I know my noble friend's personal commitments on disarmament, but I hope that she can reassure us that in the context of what has happened we shall redouble our efforts to make our own contribution in the already-established nuclear powers to making the world safer.
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