§ Mr. Stanley
No. All members of NATO are already parties to the 1925 Geneva protocol, which prohibits the426W use of chemical weapons; this prohibition is subject to reservations made by many parties, including the UK. A no first use declaration would be redundant and could undermine the worldwide standing of the 1925 protocol. The NATO Alliance however fully supports, and member states are actively participating in, the efforts of the Geneva conference to negotiate an effective, verifiable and worldwide ban on the production, manufacture and stockpiling, as well as the use, of these weapons.
§ Mr. Cohen
asked the Secretary of State for Defence what are the implications for United Kingdom policy on chemical and biological weapons of a change in policy by one of the four signatories of the quadripartite agreement on chemical and biological weapons on information and facilities sharing on research development, testing and production of such weapons of a change in policy on the production of nerve gas by another party to the agreement; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Stanley
I assume the hon. Gentleman is referring to the wide-ranging technical co-operation agreement on research and development which this country has with the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, which includes defensive measures against chemical and biological attack. In the event that one of the other parties to the agreement were to change its policy on the production of chemical agents, this would not in itself have implications for the UK's policy on chemical and biological weapons since the agreement addresses only defensive measures. All the countries concerned are signatories to the 1972 biological weapons convention which bans the production, development and stockpiling of biological weapons. On chemical weapons policy, I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to my hon. Friend the Member for Bexleyheath (Mr. Townsend) on 10 January, at column 901. The other four Governments likewise attach great importance to a comprehensive, verifiable and worldwide ban on such weapons.