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Mr. Tom King (Bridgwater): I was the person involved in making the adjustments to our armed forces at the end of the cold war. My hon. Friend dealt adequately with the childish point that has just been made, but it is worth remembering that during the time of those adjustments, we were assailed by the Labour party to make more cuts.

Mr. Duncan Smith: My right hon. Friend is absolutely right. One other point that is worth making--I was not

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going to mention it, but I will now--is that at the previous election the hon. Member for Dunfermline, West (Ms Squire) will recall that the then Conservative Government pledged no further reductions in the defence budget. We said that there would be a period of stability so that we could assess the effect of the changes before deciding, finally, whether we had gone too far. That is the most powerful argument against the hon. Lady's point.

I want to begin the strategic aspect of my speech by talking about ballistic missile defence. Interestingly, the Secretary of State centred a large part of his speech on that and it is important to pick him up on it. He talked, rightly, about the problem of proliferation and about the Government's position. I must take him back to the SDR. Part of the problem was the SDR's complete lack of recognition of the nature of the threat, which was already being recognised across the Atlantic. When I read the SDR, I was amazed that it shied away from discussing, other than in a very small way, the effect of such proliferation continuing at the same rate.

All that flew in the face of available information which led the Rumsfeld commission in the Senate to indicate that the United States, at least, would face a direct threat from North Korea and Iran within five years. I remind the Secretary of State that the radius of the threat that brings the United States into target range from North Korea also brings the United Kingdom into target range, because the ranges go over the poles. I am happy to show the right hon. Gentleman a map that demonstrates why it is more than just a threat to the United States now and a threat to Northern Europe later; there is a much greater degree of overlap.

As late as last May, the then Secretary of State said:


In the 1999 defence White Paper the Government started to chart a shift by saying:


On three separate occasions in the past year, I have made comments or speeches pointing out that we need to give a lead in Europe, and certainly within NATO, and try to get others to discuss properly the viability and nature of the threat. It is interesting that, even in the past few months, information about the developing relationship between Serbia and Iraq does not seem to have forced anybody in Europe to think carefully about the implications.

Serbia has--and has had for some time--48 kg of weapons-grade uranium, and a recent report from the Mulholland Institute informs us that the only thing that Iraq lacks to make its nuclear weapon is enriched uranium. Those two nations are currently exchanging information and forming ties of friendship. That shows clearly that proliferation continues.

Even the inspectors now recognise that even while they were in Iraq, the Iraqis were happily gathering information and capability--ironically, through various market mechanisms--to enable them to produce weapons of mass destruction. That has continued throughout the

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period of sanctions. What view do we take of the whole process of missile defence, given that there is a country that needs uranium and a country that has it, both of which have pariah status in the eyes of the rest of the world?

Arguably, if Serbia learned one thing during the Kosovo campaign, it was that taking NATO on with conventional weapons is simply not on. The capability has moved on so far that it might consider that the one thing that might have stopped the operation would have been the possession of a weapon of mass destruction, biological or nuclear, which could have created, especially for those who are close to Serbia, just the sort of tensions that we managed to overcome in the NATO alliance. That might have broken our unified front.

The Secretary of State made it clear today that there has been yet another shift in the Government's thinking--probably driven by the intelligence gathering of the Ministry of Defence--so perhaps they, at least in the person of the Secretary of State, are at last beginning to recognise that there is a serious threat that will not go away, and needs to be dealt with in a number of ways.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the hon. Member for Neath, was here earlier, and I wanted to raise with him a matter that I will now have to raise in his absence. The Defence Secretary said on 21 March 2000 that he would look sympathetically at requests to upgrade Fylingdales, but on the very same evening, in another meeting, the Minister of State said that he did not like


The Government are sending out conflicting messages. The Defence Secretary, driven no doubt by the MOD's understanding of the nature of the threat, is beginning to move towards what I would consider a logical position, while the Foreign Office, in the person of the Foreign Secretary, and especially his Minister of State, is absolutely opposed to the process.

Will the Secretary of State make absolutely clear today the Government's view of the American position? Do they believe that national missile defence is the right response?

Ms Squire: I share the hon. Gentleman's concerns about developments in North Korea and the relationship between Iraq and Serbia. Is his party in favour of the continuation and development of the anti-ballistic missile treaty?

Mr. Duncan Smith: Our position is clear. As the Secretary of State said earlier, we see that as part of a number of processes that are in train to control proliferation. The treaty-based obligations, which continue to be negotiated, are part of that. We are talking now about the problem with which the non-proliferation treaties have not succeeded in dealing, and that is states that are not deterred by those treaties from the possession of weapons of mass destruction--and the means to deliver them, whether by terrorists or by ballistic missile. Therefore, under the cover of those treaties, those states have developed such a capability. I mentioned Iraq's capability earlier, and that was developed during the interplay of those treaties. Of course we take the view that the ends should be achieved through negotiation and

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treaty where possible, but at the same time we cannot wish away the reality of the need for another deterrent, which does not currently exist.

Mr. Hoon: The hon. Gentleman did not quite answer the question posed by my hon. Friend the Member for Dunfermline, West (Ms Squire) about amendments to the anti-ballistic missile treaty. Does he believe that the treaty should be amended, and what should the British Government's negotiating position be in order to achieve that?

Mr. Duncan Smith: I draw the right hon. Gentleman's attention back to what he said in his contribution. We are not signatories to the anti-ballistic missile treaty, so it is a matter for the USA and Russia, and how it should be amended is to be decided between those two powers. However--this is the important point--obviously we want to see a viable arrangement between the possessors of nuclear weapons, as exists now. I do not resile from that position, but we do not have a negotiating position within the ABM treaty, as the Secretary of State said earlier. Our view or his view on the matter can only be passed to either party, and will not affect any amendment to the treaty.

Mr. Malcolm Savidge (Aberdeen, North): The hon. Gentleman mentioned that the ABM treaty should be renegotiated if possible. He mentioned the Soviet Union, but I trust that he accepts that Russia is its appropriate successor--although I gather that that is not accepted in some parts of the US. I trust that he is not implying that he would be prepared to see the treaty abrogated if satisfactory conclusions cannot be reached through negotiation.

Mr. Duncan Smith: I did not say what the hon. Gentleman claims I said, so the intervention and my comments do not hang together. The reality is that the ABM treaty is a matter for its signatories, and they will have to make the decisions. We will want--so, I am sure, will the Government--some accommodation to be made between the Americans and those who are now responsible for the treaty after the break-up of the old Soviet Union.

Mr. Donald Anderson (Swansea, East): If such an accommodation were reached it would solve the problem. However, that may not happen, and we do not know the key position of the Russian Federation. Is it in a negotiating position and trying to get the best deal it can from the US, either in terms of defence or other matters, or is it absolutely against any form of renegotiation of the ABM treaty? In that case, is the hon. Gentleman prepared to countenance the abrogation of the treaty to meet US aims?


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