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1.17 pm

Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow): I am vehemently opposed to the expansion of NATO. When occupants of both Front Benches are united, they are sometimes united in error. In view of what the hon. Member for Gosport (Mr. Viggers) said, I should like to place on record the names of those who share the view that expansion is a folly of historic proportions. They are Ken Aldred, the director of the Council for Arms Control; Sir Michael Atiyah, the President of the Royal Society; Sir Hugh Beach; Sir Michael Beetham; Frank Blackaby; Field Marshal The Lord Bramall and Field Marshal The Lord Carver; Sir Frank Cooper, the former permanent under-secretary at the Ministry of Defence; Sir John Curtiss; Sir James Eberle, who ran Chatham House; John Edmonds, the former ambassador to the comprehensive test ban treaty; Sir Stephen Egerton and Sir John Graham, former ambassadors; Dr. Helga Graham, who put the letter together; Hugh Hanning; Lord Healey; Sir Michael Howard; Sir Arthur Hockaday; Lord Kennet; Sir John Killick; Sir Ian McGeoch; Sir Harry Tuza and Mrs. Elizabeth Young. They are not exactly CND marchers. They say:

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    unpredictable, to make rapid assessments and take quick and effective decisions on what action, if any, to take. This is difficult enough with 16 members, as the Bosnian experience as shown; with more it risks becoming impossibly slow and ineffective."

There are other disturbing implications:

    "Actual and potential arms control and arms reduction agreements, both nuclear and conventional, will be more complicated and difficult; their ratification and implementation may be jeopardised . . . The security threat to those states not admitted in the first wave is liable to be increased; yet it is they, the Baltic states for example, who are already the most vulnerable. On the other hand, we fail to identify any countervailing advantages for the Alliance in enlargement. It will therefore continue to antagonise Russia for no good reason."

I hope that the Defence Secretary will give a serious answer to those distinguished people. I hope he will answer another question. I do not think that I do the Foreign Secretary an injustice in saying that he implied that, somehow or other, what we are doing was okay by the Russians. That is not their view.

Dr. Alexei Arbatov--whom some of us have met at Labour party groups and, doubtless, Conservative groups--of the Russian state Duma has said:

Dr. Arbatov concluded by complaining that one third of the west's military power in Europe is close to Russia's land frontiers, and that historical hostility to Russia is part of the policy and attitudes of some of the new countries.

We are assured that the NATO-Russian Founding Act establishes the framework for co-operation between NATO and Russia and creates the foundation for a lasting friendship, yet arguably, the 10 conditions imposed recently on US ratification of NATO enlargement by the ultra-conservative Republican Senator Jesse Helms, according to the Russians,

What are the facts of the matter? What are the Russians saying to us? In particular what are they saying about the Helms conditions? As I understand it, the Helms conditions have created considerable worry in the Russian Duma. The conditions are:

    "1. Outline a clear, complete strategic rationale for NATO expansion.

    2. Agree that no limitations will be placed on the numbers of NATO troops or types of weapons to be deployed on the territory of new member states, including nuclear weapons.

    3. Explicitly reject Russian efforts to establish a nuclear weapons-free zone in central Europe.

    4. Explicitly reject all efforts to tie NATO decisions to UN Security Council Approval.

    5. Establish a clear delineation of NATO deliberations that are off-limits to Russia, including, but not limited to arms control, further Alliance expansion, procurement and strategic doctrine.

    6. Provide an immediate seat at the NATO table for countries invited to join the Alliance.

    7. Reject Russian efforts to require NATO aid for Russian arms sales to former Warsaw Pact militaries joining the Alliance . . .

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    8. Reject any further Russian efforts to link consensus in arms-control negotiations including the . . . ABM treaty and the CFE treaty.

    9. Develop a plan for a NATO ballistic missile defence system to defend Europe.

    10. Get a clear advance agreement on an equitable distribution of the cost of expansion, to make certain American taxpayers don't get stuck with the lion's share of the bill."

What is the attitude to those conditions? Any foreseeable Russian Government must surely deeply resent them.

The worries are not only British, but American. I shall spare the House the list of the American signatories to a letter to President Clinton, but the fact that it includes people such as Nitze shows that there is at least a queasy attitude to what we are doing. I believe that we are unnecessarily alienating and isolating Russia. Such vindictive handling will encourage revanchism; a genuine comparison can be made to Weimar Germany in what we are doing to the fragile and flawed democracy of current Russian politics.

Enlargement along the lines that are proposed will be counter-productive. It will undermine the efforts of the reformers in Russia and support the rise to power of reactionaries, whether of the communist left or the authoritarian right. Even in the short term, the alienation of Russia may remove its incentive to co-operate with the west in other areas of international affairs, such as the non-proliferation and nuclear arms control treaties.

The START 2 agreement on nuclear arms reduction, which was signed in 1993, has not come into force because of the Duma's refusal to approve it.

What is the assessment of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State of the likely effect of enlargement on START 2? Until the situation is resolved, there will be no movement on further START negotiations. Indeed, Russia has revealed that, until funds are found to modernise its armed forces, it will place a greater onus on its nuclear arsenal in its defence strategy. In February 1998, the Duma passed a motion calling NATO enlargement the biggest threat to Russia since the end of the second world war.

Elsewhere, Russia has followed policies that are not consonant with those of the US and Britain, notably on the treatment of Serbia, and particularly on Kosovo. If we want Russia to co-operate on such delicate matters, is it really wise to provoke it?

We must also consider the interests of the applicant states. As envisaged, NATO will never be able to achieve the consolidation of a peaceful and undivided Europe unless Russia--a European country--is made a full member of the alliance, which is most unlikely. Dangerous military or psychological imbalances could occur between those countries that are in and those that are out. New members, such as Hungary, Poland andthe Czech Republic, will have access to military communications and nuclear intelligence that regional neighbours such as Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria will be denied.

That is a difficult situation. Senator Moynihan pointed out that, if the Baltic countries of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, which are panting for membership, were brought in, the United States and other signatories would have a solemn obligation to defend territory further east than the westernmost border of Russia. Is that wise?

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Sam Nunn, who has been mentioned, said:

He pointed out that NATO expansion makes the Russians

    "more suspicious and less co-operative".

When Mr. Gorbachev was directly approached bySir Hugh Beach, Dr. Graham and Sir John Killick, he said:

    "In 1990 I was assured by, among others, Chancellor Kohl and the then US Secretary of State James Baker that there were no plans for the expansion of NATO Eastwards and that there would not be any. Of this we have documentary evidence. James Baker, in particular said to me on 9 February 1990: 'We understand that, not only for the Soviet Union but for other European countries, it is important to have guarantees that, if the US, in the framework of NATO, maintains its presence in Germany, that will not lead to the extension of the jurisdiction or the military presence of NATO by one inch Eastwards.'"

Mr. Blunt: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Dalyell: Forgive me. I am rushing through my speech, because so many hon. Members want to speak.

The expansion of NATO means Russia relying more and more on nuclear weapons. It is NATO's hope that co-operation under the Founding Act, and especially joint operational experience of peacekeeping, will help to dispel Russian mistrust of NATO and its enlargement, but the existing member states should not be deluded about the extent of the psychological trauma suffered by the Russian political elite as a result of the collapse of the Soviet empire. We really had better be careful about what we are doing.

What is the likely cost of equipping central European countries for NATO membership? What proportion are they supposed to pay, and what would be the effect on, for example, the Polish economy? What will it cost to make central European weapons systems compatible with those of NATO?

The Pentagon recently came up with a new estimate of the cost, at $1.5 billion over 10 years, but the New York Times said that the figure was laughable, and clearly cooked up to reassure the Senate as it approached a vote. Only a few months ago, the Pentagon calculated that the cost could run as high as $35 billion over 13 years. One is entitled to ask what costs are involved.

The entry of the Baltics would create huge problems in Moscow. NATO expansion may damage paramount security interests for decades to come. The American President and the British Government may mistake Yeltsin's seeming acquiescence for permanent Russian acceptance. Other Governments will come along in Russia, and they may not acquiesce.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn) said, the whole American plan seems to be at the expense of the United Nations. Why cannot the UN be involved? It is not clever to give grave offence to a weakened Russian state. We are encouraging the slow candle of Russian nationalism. I beg those on both Front Benches to be careful.

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