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4.10 p.m.

Earl Jellicoe: My Lords, I have to begin with three confessions. The first is that I shall not be following the theme which the right reverend Prelate so eloquently addressed. It is sad, if I understand him correctly, that this is the last time that he will be addressing your Lordships' House. My second confession is that owing to a very longstanding commitment I shall not be here for the latter part of the debate and for the wind-up speech by my noble friend the Minister. My third confession is to a longstanding, albeit amateur, interest in Eastern Europe, above all in Russia. That originated in the dark ages perhaps when I was a very junior diplomat and an equally junior member of the British delegation to the Council of Foreign Ministers in Moscow in 1947--a mission led by that great man, Ernest Bevin.

However, it is not of Russia, for all its importance, that I wish to speak this afternoon, but rather of a country (Ukraine) which was an integral part of the Soviet Union until its independence in 1991, nearly five years ago.

Ukraine is a country which I was lucky enough to visit this summer. I was invited, for some unknown reason, to preside over an international conference on the future of the Ukrainian sugar industry. My only qualification, apart from having known a bit about sugar in the remote past, was that I knew nothing about the Ukrainian sugar industry and therefore that my chairmanship of the meeting was bound to be impartial.

I can only say that Ukraine has made a deep impression on me. I have in mind its long history: the fact that the foundations of Russian Christianity were laid in Ukraine. I have in mind its sufferings--the man-made famines of 1932 and 1933 in the Ukraine and its neighbours, with their death toll of some 7 million people, and the ghastly consequences of the German invasion in 1941. I have in mind, too, its rather long historical connection with this country, symbolised by the fact that a Grand Prince of Kiev was married to Gytha, as I am sure all your Lordships know, the daughter of our very own King Harold who was killed at the Battle of Hastings in, I think it was, 1066, and symbolised also by the active involvement of British entrepreneurs in Ukraine in its late 19th century industrialisation. Its capital, by the Dnieper River, despite the ravages of the Russian civil war in which it changed hands 15 times in two years and the damage inflicted upon it in two world wars, is still in my view an incomparably beautiful city. It is right that Kiev should be twinned with another most beautiful city; namely, Edinburgh.

With all that in mind, it is odd to me that that country--the second in size and the fifth in population in Europe--with its 51 million people, its educated (it is educated) workforce, its energy industry potential, its considerable agricultural and industrial wealth--all that in addition to its crucial geographical and historical position vis-a-vis Russia--seems to qualify as one of those faraway countries about which we know and hear very little. I can understand why that was so in the early days of Ukrainian independence. In those early years,

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Chernobyl and our desire that Ukraine should become a non-nuclear power dominated the West's preoccupation with the Ukraine.

There was considerable uncertainty about Ukraine and its future--what sort of country it and its rulers desired it to be. However, since the election of President Kuchma in 1994 things have changed. True, progress has been slow. True, the president still meets a good deal of opposition in the Rada--the Ukrainian Lower House. Certainly, Ukraine lags way behind its neighbour Russia in structural and economic reform and in privatisation. Yet certainly there is now a quite new sense of purpose in the Ukraine under President Kuchma. Inflation is now under control. The new currency is holding its value. The slowdown of the economy is slowing significantly and with it foreign interest in a very substantial potential market is growing.

Given the potential of that major European country, I hope that we can look forward to a strengthening of our bilateral links with it. It is good that there has been a plentiful exchange of high-level visits, with President Kuchma and his former prime minister visiting the UK and with short visits by the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer and two notable visits by my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary, both in his capacity as Defence Minister and more recently as Foreign Secretary. It is good that the Lord Mayor of London paid a successful visit to Ukraine this summer, and that His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales will be visiting Ukraine shortly (next week in fact) and that, apart from other clothing, he will be wearing the mantle of his Business Leaders Forum.

It is good that the Know How Fund, with an annual contribution of some £9 million per year, is constructively active in Ukraine. It is good that the British Council is now active there, with four major centres. It is good, too, that the Foreign Office's Chevening Scholarship Scheme is open to the Ukraine. I can think of no better long-term investment, although I should like to see the number doubled or trebled. It is good also that co-operation on the military level is so positive, with UK experience available for training and defence restructuring--a co-operation symbolised in a joint exercise a trois this summer in Poland with Polish, Ukrainian and British participation. Finally, it is good that Ukraine is a member of IFOR, and that a Ukrainian battalion has played its part in the British sector in Bosnia.

All that is fine. Yet, all that said, I am concerned that in trade our bilateral relationship with this major European power is far weaker than it should be. True, there is a growing interest of British companies in the service sector. True, British exports to Ukraine increased by some 30 per cent. in the first half of this year. However, they amount still to only a little more than our exports to small but progressive Slovenia. They rank far behind the exports of some of our major European partners.

It is a sad and curious fact that only a handful of major British companies in the agricultural and industrial sector have shown a real interest in Ukraine's potential. My noble friend Lord Selsdon is a notable

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exception. Given that rather disappointing background, I hope that we can maintain the rhythm of high-level visits both ways, including a visit by a senior DTI Minister and visits by British trade missions--visits rather sadly lacking at present. Above all, given the potential of this market, I hope that those concerned will look again at the provision of adequate export credit for Ukraine; a provision, as is all too often the case, where we lag behind our trade competitors.

In conclusion, I do not wish to dwell on our bilateral relationship--although that relationship is important--but rather on the wider European and international aspect of our relationship with Ukraine. In a noteworthy speech in Kiev last year, the Foreign Secretary remarked:

    "Ukraine's size and strategic position make it one of Europe's pivots. Ukraine is crucial to our joint work. If structures can be devised to ensure prosperity and security here, we will have established arrangements which will work for Europe as a whole".

I could not agree more strongly. It is good, therefore, that Ukraine is now firmly looking westwards. It was the first former Soviet country to sign a Partnership for Peace agreement with NATO. As agreed, since May there have been no nuclear warheads on Ukrainian soil. Furthermore, Ukraine was the first former Soviet country to sign a partnership and co-operation agreement with the European Union and it is good that since then an interim agreement with the European Union to widen trade links has also been signed. Ukraine is now a member of the Council of Europe.

All that is for the good. Ukraine now qualifies for substantial assistance from the Group of 7, from the IMF, from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and, of course, from the European Union. All that is fine as far as it goes. However, I am convinced that far more important in the long term for Ukraine--and of course the same applies to the other countries of Eastern Europe, including very much Russia--is access to the international markets of the world and not least to the countries of the European Union. I very much hope that in reply my noble friend the Minister will be able to assure us that securing and ensuring that access will remain a major British priority. It is on that matter that, in the last resort, we in the West will, above all, be judged. This will be not only in our economic interest but also in the interest of European security.

I have to confess that I am not really quite so happy about some of the current political signals, and specifically the implications of early NATO enlargement. I talk about a subject on which I am not an expert but I shall give my views. In my view, the last thing that we want to do is to provide ammunition to those in Russia or elsewhere who would like to turn the clock back to the days of the Cold War. I know that perhaps I am speaking to the converted when I say that it is vitally important for us to get this right. We must reach the right agreements in the Partnership for Peace with Russia, with Ukraine and with other countries not now perhaps seen as early candidates for NATO membership. We must reach agreements which contain real benefits to all parties; agreements which attract

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rather than repel; agreements which do not preclude eventual incorporation; and agreements which do not purport to cast relationships in concrete for all time.

I believe that that is particularly relevant to Ukraine, the country which I have made the theme of my remarks today. It cannot afford to be a NATO front line on Russia's border. Equally, a decision that Ukraine's position is so difficult that it must preclude membership could leave that major European country in a new Russian sphere of influence. I believe that Ukrainian independence matters to all of us. I conclude that that is best assured by concentrating on doing all we can to consolidate this major country's economic strength, in particular through her incorporation in the international economic community. That should go in parallel with and perhaps in front of moves on the security front, and certainly not after such moves.

It used to be said that Ukraine was the touchstone of Russia's acceptance of the end of the empire. I believe that still to be true. I also believe that Ukrainian independence and prosperity are a measure of our determination to help to create a lasting and peaceful new intra-European matrix of relationships and that as such they merit our very particular attention.

4.25 p.m.

Lord Carver: My Lords, I intend to limit my remarks to two issues of foreign affairs and defence which are closely linked and to what was said by the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe. They are the elimination of nuclear weapons and the enlargement of NATO.

During the past year I have been a member of the Canberra Commission on the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, established by the previous Australian Government but given the continued support of their successor. Our mandate was to,

    "develop ideas and proposals for a concrete and realistic programme to achieve a world totally free of nuclear weapons".

We presented our report to the Australian Prime Minister on 14th August and his Government published it on that day. His foreign minister stated that we had carried out our mandate successfully and that our report was realistic, practical and constructive. He presented it to the UN General Assembly on 30th September.

In our report we listed the many reasons why it is urgent that a major effort should be made now for a real, genuine and unequivocal commitment by the declared nuclear weapon states to the target of total elimination and for them to demonstrate that by a number of steps which we listed. Why is it urgent? First, the destructiveness of nuclear weapons is so great, and their use so catastrophic, that they have no military utility against a comparably equipped opponent other than the belief that they deter such an opponent from using his nuclear weapons. Therefore, their elimination would remove that justification for their retention. Their use against a non-nuclear opponent is politically and morally indefensible, as history has shown.

Secondly, it is urgent because the indefinite deployment of the weapons carries a high risk of their ultimate use intentionally, by accident or by inadvertence. We are lucky that since 1945 no nuclear

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weapon has been exploded, except in tests, either intentionally or by accident. But there were occasions when the world came close to it, notably in the Cuban crisis. Furthermore, there have been some 100 accidents involving US Air Force aircraft carrying nuclear weapons which could have had disastrous consequences but, fortunately, did not. We owe that good fortune to the fact that nuclear weapons have been held only by nations with strong and efficient governmental machinery and access to the latest technology. Today, with the break-up of the Soviet Union and the actual and potential proliferation of nuclear weapons to states, or even possibly to groups within states which could not be so described, the risk of intentional or accidental use is higher. So long as nuclear weapons exist, and certainly if their possession proliferates, that risk will not only continue but will probably increase.

Thirdly, it is urgent because the possession of such weapons by some states stimulates other nations to acquire them or to want to acquire them, reducing the security of all. Far from contributing to stability, as the Government always claim, it has the opposite effect. We devoted a chapter of our report to rebutting the arguments of those who argue for the permanent retention of nuclear weapons. They argue that they have prevented and will continue to prevent war between the major powers; that they protect the credibility of security assurances to allies; that they deter the use of other weapons of so-called mass destruction; that they confer political status and influence; that they provide effective defence at lower cost; that they can defeat large-scale conventional aggression by regional powers; that agreement on elimination could never be reached, and that in any case an agreement could not be verified to an acceptable degree of certainty. Those are the arguments they use.

We believe that we have provided effective refutation of all those arguments, either by exposing their basic invalidity or by showing that, whatever may have been the case in the past, in present and future circumstances the desired outcome could be achieved without nuclear weapons. We devoted a considerable proportion of our report to a description of what a verification system would have to cover and an annex to the legal backing it would need. We did not attempt to produce a blueprint for such a system. If the United States and Russia cannot be persuaded to make the commitment we seek, a blueprint invented by others is irrelevant. If they do make the commitment they themselves must devise the methods, including verification, by which, stage by stage, they reduce from their present levels to zero. Any system that satisfies them should also satisfy the other declared states, the threshold and potential threshold states and the non-nuclear weapons states. The last must never be forgotten.

We accepted that no verification system could be 100 per cent. effective, but if sufficient effort was put behind it we reckoned it could be about 85 per cent. effective. Whether or not that is acceptable is a political judgment to be taken at the time you are nearing zero. It is not an excuse for not trying to start the process. What we must do is compare the risks between the present and a possible future situation where there are a

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large number of weapons in existence and the possibility of proliferation and lack of control and one where there has been a progressive and verified reduction to zero and the political or military advantage of retaining or attempting to develop a few weapons is doubtful. There can surely be no doubt that the latter would involve less risk and would mean a safer world for us all.

The commission was not a body of airy-fairy academics or pious pacifists. It included a former defence secretary of the United States and a former commander-in-chief of its Strategic Command, a former prime minister of France, the Russian professor who was Mr. Gorbachev's science adviser and who now heads the East-West Space Centre in the United States, a former prime minister of Brazil, and experts in nuclear affairs or arms control from China, Japan, Sweden, Egypt and Sri Lanka. A very valuable member with practical experience was the Swedish diplomat, Rolf Ekeus, who heads UNSCOM, the United Nations mission investigating Iraq's mass destruction weapon programme. The members from this country were Robert O'Neill, professor of the history of war at Oxford, the former director of the International Institute of Strategic Studies, Professor Joseph Rotblat, who worked on the original atom bombs and who has since devoted his life to getting rid of them, and myself.

The report of that very varied group was unanimous and without any form of qualification. We did not call for any nation to disarm unilaterally. We believe strongly that because there is at present no major source of tension between the great powers the opportunity exists, which may not last long if it is not seized, to make a new and clear choice to enable the world to conduct its affairs without nuclear weapons. We gave no time scale because we realised that unless Russia and the United States can be persuaded genuinely to drive together towards that target it will never be achieved at all. However, if they can be persuaded, and if they put anything like the effort into it which they have expended on building up and maintaining their nuclear arsenals, matters could move much more quickly than most people imagine possible. We have listed a number of steps which, if they made such a commitment, they and all other nuclear weapon states could take without any prejudice to their security. Those steps would demonstrate their commitment and also make the world safer. They include such measures as taking weapons systems off alert status and removing warheads from delivery systems.

This brings me to the enlargement of NATO. Fears of what that means to her is one of the main reasons why Russia is hesitating over the ratification of START II and progress towards START III. The Russian military now use the same arguments for retaining nuclear weapons that NATO formerly used for developing and maintaining them--that they face superior conventional forces, from Europe to the Far East, to counter-balance which they need nuclear weapons. There is little hope of persuading Russia to make a commitment to total elimination so long as those fears persist. They are not unreasonable fears given the devotion to nuclear weapons of NATO's

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American-dominated military organisation combined with the uncompromising and unqualified terms of Article V of the North Atlantic Treaty.

That is not the only reason why I believe that enlargement of NATO, in its present pattern, would be a grave mistake. It would encourage new members to model their armed forces on the American design which would inevitably pose a potential threat to their neighbours. They need to be persuaded to adopt an entirely different approach which would pose no such threat. For several years, in this House and elsewhere, I have expounded my views and have proposed an alternative. I will not trespass further on the time of the House by repeating them, but recent correspondence in The Times on the subject revealed that I am not alone in holding those views. The Times itself, in its second leader on 30th September, described NATO's policy on enlargement as one of "historic irresponsibility".

On these issues of nuclear weapons and NATO enlargement, it needs a major effort of intellect and political will for the foreign and defence establishments, both political and official, to escape from the grooves into which they have become comfortably and complacently stuck. The Canberra commission has signposted the intellectual escape route. If it is dismissed as too difficult, future generations will condemn us for not even making the effort to rid the world of these horrible weapons.

I hope--I have to be optimistic--that the Government or at least their successors, of whatever political colour, will study the Canberra commission report seriously and do their best to persuade the United States and Russia to make a reality of the commitment that they and Her Majesty's Government made, in signing the non-proliferation treaty, to total elimination of nuclear weapons, and to take the measures to demonstrate that which we recommended.

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