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Mr. Corbyn: That is extremely important. Have either of the two countries accepted any form of international inspection of either the development or the potential loading of weapons on to missiles?

Mr. Lloyd: No; at this moment that is not the case. However, I was about to say that the international

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community stands ready to assist. We want to see binding and verifiable confidence-building and security-building measures. Those would give mutual confidence, and also confidence throughout south Asia.

My hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn) asked about proliferation beyond India and Pakistan. Of course the task force discussed how to prevent further damage to global non-proliferation regimes being caused by exports of nuclear technology and know-how from India or Pakistan.

Both countries have made welcome statements ontheir respective export policies, but what is needed now is national legislation, incorporating the policy guidelines and control lists of the two major export control regimes--the missile technology control regime and the nuclear suppliers group. The first of those serves to limit missile technology and the second places limitations on the export of nuclear technology, as well as dual-use technology that could assist in nuclear development. The task force agreed to pursue ways of giving India and Pakistan practical help and advice to assist in achieving that goal.

Beyond the arms control aspect, there is the new and disturbing dimension to bilateral relations between India and Pakistan and their historic differences. The international community has emphasised the importance of India and Pakistan addressing, as a matter of urgency, the root causes of tension between them, including that raised by many hon. Members--the long-standing issue of Kashmir. We have urged both sides to make a fresh start in their bilateral relations and restore momentum to their dialogue.

In that context, we welcome the meeting between the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan in Colombo on 29 July. That was an important step forward in bilateral relations, and we hope that the follow-up talks now planned between senior officials will lead to early progress on the issues that divide those countries.

Only through bilateral dialogue will India and Pakistan find durable ways of solving the problem of Kashmir, but Britain has always stressed strongly the fact that, although we do not and cannot seek to internationalise the problem, we and the rest of the international community stand ready to help to look for practical solutions to the problems in Kashmir, if that would be helpful to India and Pakistan.

Kashmir inevitably remains a source of tension between India and Pakistan, and a solution must be found through the dialogue route that hon. Members have requested. To endure, any solution that is acceptable to both sides must take account of the wishes of those who live in Kashmir. Many people of Kashmiri origin live in this country and continue to take a strong interest in the future of Kashmir within the Indian subcontinent. Hon. Members have mentioned the need for both sides to behave responsibly, and we appeal to both India and Pakistan to ensure that the rhetoric is about seeking solutions, not creating tensions.

The regional security dimension of the tests was clearly recognised at the task force meeting. The group agreed to encourage implementation by India and Pakistan of

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existing confidence-building and security-building measures, to which hon. Members have referred. A great many of those measures have been agreed by the two sides over the years, but have not been put into operation. The best way to build confidence and reduce tension would be for India and Pakistan to take the non-proliferation steps urged upon them by the international community and make early progress in their bilateral dialogue.

Britain is actively seeking nuclear de-escalation, so we now have the authority to demand that others also examine their roles. Specifically, as my hon. Friends have said, the strategic defence review contains several points of real significance. We have reduced the stockpile of available warheads and there is only one Trident submarine on deterrent patrol at any time. It carries 48 warheads, which is half the ceiling announced by the previous Government. It may interest my hon. Friend the Member for Pendle to learn that the missiles will be de-targeted. No cities are targeted, which means that it would be several days before the missiles were ready to fire. That is a genuine confidence-building measure.

There is no need for Britain to buy more Trident missiles. We have declared missile levels--a declaration that is unique among nuclear weapons states--and our total stocks of fissile materials. We have also declared the limited amounts of material that will be held outside safeguards for defence purposes, and we are transferring into safeguards material that is no longer required for that purpose. Those measures are designed to build a climate and a framework in which transparency is the order of the day. We must make it clear to other nuclear weapons states exactly where Britain stands.

We also intend to pursue with considerable vigour several specific points. Mention has been made of the fissile material cut-off treaty. We believe that that is the logical next step, and we shall pursue it vigorously both because we want to see India and Pakistan involved in the negotiations in Geneva and because we are prepared to be involved in those negotiations. We want the United States, Russia and China to ratify the comprehensive test ban treaty, and we want India and Pakistan to sign the treaty, which would allow it to come into operation and, significantly, trigger the verification mechanisms that would span the planet. That is a massively important step forward, which is real and achievable.

We are exploring the possibility of improving security assurances to some non-nuclear weapons states beyond the existing nuclear weapons-free zones. We have already agreed to work on security assurances within the conference on disarmament. The British Government are taking practical measures that we believe will enhance the climate of confidence and make the world a safer place. In that light, we are in a position to condemn the nuclear tests by India and Pakistan. However, we urge our friends in those countries to step back from the nuclear threshold, even at this late stage, and to join Britain in actively searching for ways of making the world safer, of decelerating the nuclear arms race and of seeking the mechanics of achieving a practical global elimination of nuclear weapons.

Question put and agreed to.



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