Memorandum Submitted by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Responding to the Committee's Follow-up Questions to its Report on WMD

May 10, 2001

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear
  • Missile
  • Chemical
  • Biological

Related Country: 

  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • France
  • Iraq
  • Italy
  • North Korea
  • Norway
  • Russia
  • South Africa
  • South Korea
  • Sweden
  • United States

If the FCO will update the Committee on the perceived present missile threat to the USA and to Europe from North Korea; what progress there has been in confidence building between North and South Korea, and what assurances have been given by North Korea on future missile development?

We assess that there is no significant such threat today. We share US concerns about the future and keep this issue under close review.

There have been regular official meetings held between the two Koreas since the June 2000 Summit, including four rounds of Ministerial-level talks, two rounds of working-level military talks, and one round of Defence Ministers' talks. These meetings, reunions of separated family members, visits and co-operation in cultural and sporting fields, exchanges of periodicals between the two sides and the reduction of propaganda broadcasts are also helping to increase the level of understanding between the two sides. These exchanges are expected to continue and expand.

Negotiations have taken place between North Korea and the previous US Administration on the North Korean missile programme, including on assurances on future missile development. The UK has also sought such assurances in its recent contacts with the North Koreans. North Korea has declared a current moratorium on long range missile flight testing.

If the FCO will update the Committee on the perceived missile threat to the USA and to Europe from (a) Iran and (b) Libya, and what assurances have been given by each of these countries on future missile development?

We assess that there is no significant such threat today from either country to the United States, nor from Libya to Europe. Again we share US concerns and shall continue to monitor developments.

Iran is developing the Shahab-3 ballistic missile and prototypes are already available. Shahab-3's claimed, 1,300 km-range has the potential to reach Cyprus and most of Turkey. But there is nothing to suggest that Iran has any intent towards these areas.

We are not aware that Iran or Libya have given any assurances on future missile development. Iranian officials have claimed that Shahab-3 will meet Iran's security needs, and that the planned Shahab-4 will be a satellite launch vehicle. Libya denies any involvement in ballistic missile proliferation.

What would need to be done (including the extent of any physical works) at Fylingdales in order for the facilities to be upgraded to meet the needs of stage two of National Missile Defence?

The provisional plans for a National Missile Defence system drawn up by the Clinton Administration envisaged deployment proceeding in two broad phases.

In the first phase, these plans envisaged the upgrading of a number of existing Early Warning Radars: in the US, in Greenland, and at RAF Fylingdales. In the case of RAF Fylingdales, this would involve some changes to the software governing the operation of the radar, and some related IT hardware changes.

In the second phase, these plans envisaged the construction of a number of new "X-Band" radars, including one in North West Europe. US plans notionally referred to most of these new radars being co-located with the existing Early Warning Radars mentioned above, including one at RAF Fylingdales.

However, in the wake of President Clinton's decision not to authorise deployment of a National Missile Defence system, it is now for the new US Administration to decide how to proceed. President Bush has made clear his commitment to a National Missile Defence system. But his Administration has taken no decisions on the form it might take. It should not be assumed that their plans will necessarily mirror those developed by the Clinton Administration.


What progress has been made in gaining UNMOVIC entry into Iraq?

As UNMOVIC's Executive Chairman Dr Hans Blix announced in August, UNMOVIC is now ready to begin work in Iraq. Unfortunately the Iraqis continue to reject SCR 1284 and any contact with UNMOVIC, despite all efforts to persuade them to engage.

What is the extend and effect of sanctions on the ground in Iraq?

The arms embargo and the security by the SCR 661 Sanctions Committee of applications for the import of dual-use items are undoubtedly constraining Iraq's efforts to rebuild WMD. But Saddam is a determined proliferator, and no country, even the most determined to uphold SCRs, can guarantee that its export controls are 100 per cent effective. In addition, we know that Iraq is rebuilding facilities such as chemical and explosive factories which have in the past been used for WMD-related purposes. In the absence of UN inspectors, we cannot be sure that these and other facilities are not being used for illegal purposes.

What is the view of the Security Council on lifting sanctions should UNMOVIC be allowed into Iraq?

Under Security Council resolution 1284, the entry of UNMOVIC and the IAEA into Iraq paves the way for sanctions suspension and, ultimately, sanctions lift. Six months after they start work in Iraq, if Iraq has co-operated and addressed the key remaining disarmament tasks, then the Council can act to suspend sanctions. The criteria for lifting sanctions remains as set out in SCR 687.

What assessment has been made of any erosion of political support for sanctions in the UN, and to what extent has any erosion been the consequence of current problems in Israel and the Occupied Territories?

All members of the Security Council remain determined to see the Council's decisions implemented. Those who declare a willingness to see sanctions against Iraq lifted make clear that they see this in the context of implementation of the Security Council's resolutions, namely that Iraqi compliance with its obligations, including on disarmament, is a pre-requisite. There is no doubt that the Iraqi regime has sought to take full propaganda advantage of the current problems affecting the Middle East Peace Process. Iraqi military posturing in support of the Palestinians and other political gestures designed to sway Arab feeling is likely to have had an impact on popular opinion. But the communique by the recent summit of Gulf Cooperation Council states reiterates the need for Iraqi compliance with its obligations under SCRs before sanctions can be lifted.

What evidence does the FCO have of sanctions-busting by Iraq-particularly oil smuggling?

The Iraqi regime has persistently sought to secure illegal revenue, outside the UN's control, by exporting oil in breach of sanctions. We estimate that Iraq earned over $1 billion in 2000 through oil-smuggling and manipulation of the "oil for food" programme. Traditional smuggling routes include exporting oil across Iraq's land borders, particularly through Turkey (an estimated 50-100,000 barrels per day). We are also aware of Iraqi smuggling of oil by ship through the Gulf. The UK is a major contributor to the Multinational and Interdiction Force (MIF) which patrols the Gulf to monitor and deter such smugglers. The presence of the MIF has forced smugglers to use Iranian territorial waters. We have made representations to the Iranian government about this and as a result we estimate that by December 2000 exports through the Gulf fell to an estimated 15,000 barrels per day, the lowest level since August 1999. There have also been unconfirmed press reports suggesting that an illegal oil pipeline to Syria is now operational, reportedly exporting up to 150,000 barrels per day. We have raised this with the Syrian Government who have denied that the pipeline is operational. Smuggling of course deprives the UN's "oil for food" programme of funds to purchase food, medicine and other humanitarian relief for the Iraqi people. We therefore seek to monitor it closely, and pursue breaches of sanctions with the governments concerned and at the UN.


What appraisal has the FCO made of the United States' position on the Anti Ballistic Missile Treaty and National Missile Defence in light of the Presidential, House and Senate elections?

We expect that the new US Administration will wish to pursue the development of a National Missile Defence system. It is too soon to predict how, and on what timescale, they may decide to take this forward. Their first step might be to undertake a comprehensive review of all the technological options available. We are in touch with the Administration on this issue and look forward to close consultation with them, both bilaterally and in NATO, as their thinking evolves.


The Government's response notes that some EU countries have yet to ratify the Additional Protocols under the IAEA (INFCIRC 540). What is the timetable for ratification for each of those EU countries that have not done so?

We have made enquiries with our European Partners and from information given to our Embassies, we understand the position in those countries that have yet to ratify their Additional Protocols to be as follows:

- Austria: The additional Protocols are currently with the political parties in Parliament. They are expected to be considered by a Parliamentary Committee in February and the ratification process should be completed by April.

- France: Ratification has been included on the Government's programme for this year but no date has been set.

- Denmark: there are still a number of technical preparations which need to be made but the Government of Denmark hope to ratify the Protocol this year.

- Ireland: The Upper House of Parliament has ratified the Protocols. They now return to the Lower House which is expected to pass them in the first quarter of this year.

- Italy: Parliament is expected to debate ratification in February or March and ratification should take place before the end of the Parliamentary session in May.

- Luxembourg: The draft law to enact ratification was rejected by the State Council and has been returned to officials for revision. Luxembourg was unable to give a clear timetable for ratification.

- Portugal: The Additional Protocol was approved by the Portuguese Parliament on 15 December. Before the formal process is complete, however, an official text has to be published and signed by the President of the Republic. This test will then be published in the form of a Decree of Ratification. This process will take only weeks.

We are still waiting for information from Belgium.

We hope that the Committee will use its contacts with comparable committees in states which have yet to ratify their Additional Protocols to encourage them to do so.

The Committee may also wish to be aware that the IAEA General Conference in September 2000 adopted a resolution which set out a number of steps designed to encourage Member States to conclude Additional Protocols. The Director General announced at the December meeting of the Board of Governors that the Secretariat has enhanced its action plan for this purpose. The enhanced plan will strengthen communication, training and assistance to maximise the use of all Agency resources available to assist Member States with all legal, technical and administrative aspects relevant to the conclusion of safeguards agreements and Additional Protocols. The IAEA has organised, or participated in, a number of national and regional seminars and workshops, in Thailand, Vietnam and Belarus. Further such meetings are planned.


The Committee would like to be updated on any progress made on the Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty

There is, unfortunately, little to report. The Conference on Disarmament was unable to agree a Work Programme for 2000 and as a result there were no negotiations on the FMCT. We shall fully support the efforts of the new Canadian Chair to achieve a breakthrough, seeking agreement on a Work Programme for 2001, including a start to FMCT negotiations.


The Committee would like to be updated on the Government's financing of projects to assist Russia in dismantling its chemical weapons capability, and what assistance is being given by the United States and other nations?

As part of Spending Review 2000, the Government decided that the Ministry of Defence should spend up to £12 million over the three years of the review period (1 April 2001-31 March 2004) on high priority chemical demilitarisation and biological non-proliferation projects in Russia. Preliminary discussions have taken place about possible options with the Russian Munitions Agency, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defence in Moscow, and officials visited the sites of planned chemical weapons destruction facilities at Shchuch'ye and Gorny. No decisions have yet been taken on specific UK assistance projects. Discussions have also been held with the US and other donor countries.

The US so far spent some $190 million on assistance to Russia in helping to dismantle its chemical weapons capability. This has included work on design of the chemical weapons destruction facility at Shchuch'ye; proving the technology to be used in the facility; setting up a central analytical laboratory in Moscow and assistance with destruction of former chemical weapon production facilities. A further $88.4 million is available for completing the design of the Shchuch'ye facility and starting construction. The US plans to spend a further $600 million to complete the project at Shchuch'ye, subject to Congressional approval.

We understand that Canada, Italy, Norway and Sweden have either provided or are considering the provision of assistance to support the Shchuch'ye project.

Germany has to date committed some DM58 million for the provision of equipment and services at the chemical weapons destruction facility at Gorny. Under the EU Joint Action, E5.8 million has also been committed to the Gorny project, and E3 million has been allocated for environmental monitoring there under the TACIS project. The Netherlands is currently considering the provision of assistance at Gorny.

Finland and Sweden have also provided assistance at the Kambarka chemical weapons storage site.


What progress has been made in encouraging the final five members of the NSG to sign the Additional Protocol?

We understand the position to be as follows:

- Argentina and Brazil: discussions between the IAEA, Argentina and Brazil on an Additional Protocol are underway however; the position is complicated because of the need to negotiate a quadripartite agreement with the Brazilian-Argentine Agency for Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials;

- Belarus: negotiations between the IAEA Secretariat and the Belarus authorities on an Additional Protocol have started (see also comment above about the regional conference held in Belarus);

- Latvia: the Additional Protocol was approved by the Board of Governors of the IAEA on 7 December 2000 although as of 12 January 2001, the Additional Protocol had not been signed;

- South Africa: consultations continue, the IAEA Secretariat are hopeful that they will be concluded in the near future.


What are the dates of the Conference on Disarmament to be held in Geneva to discuss the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons?

The UN Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons is scheduled to take place in New York from 9-20 July 2001.

What appraisal has the FCO made on the US timetable for ratification of the Ottawa Convention following the Presidential, House and Senate elections in the United States?

We shall in due course be in touch with the new US administration on various aspects of its approach to the Ottawa Convention.


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