§ Mr. David Atkinson
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what is his policy on the establishment by the Western European Union of a European space-based defence system; and if he will make a statement;
(2) if he will make a statement about co-operation with(a) the United States Ballistic Missile Defence Organisation and (b) other member states of the Western 251W European Union on the development of European anti-missile defence programmes.
§ Mr. Soames
The United Kingdom continues to enjoy a close relationship with the US Ballistic Missile Defence Organisation and other United States authorities involved in ballistic missile defence issues. This relationship is founded on a 1985 US/UK memorandum of understanding. Additionally and more widely, ballistic missile defence issues are discussed with other allies in NATO forums and bilaterally. There are no plans for WEU to establish a European space-based defence system.
The UK is currently engaged on a two-year national programme of pre-feasibility studies into ballistic missile defence options for the UK. Once this is completed, we hope to he in a position to make a definitive decision on whether we have a requirement for such a capability.