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I have received the 20th report of the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC). This report has been made under Articles 4 and 7 of the international
10 Nov 2008 : Column WS36
The report underlines the progress that has been made, particularly over the past three years, towards a more normal society in Northern Ireland. If further evidence of that were needed, the mutual respect and sensitivity demonstrated by the arrangements for the homecoming parades in Belfast and elsewhere shows the continued progress being made.
The IMC also makes the point that the devolution of policing and justice powers would be a further indication of progress. The report sets out the clear and important benefits that devolution would bring. It would enable the closer integration of law enforcement with other domestic policy, essential in the fight against crime. It would also allow the Executive and Assembly to ensure that the criminal justice system was fully aligned to the needs of an increasingly normalised Northern Ireland and that a co-ordinated, strategic approach to policing and justice could evolve.
The report acknowledges that the absence of certainty on the devolution of policing and justice may have encouraged dissident republican groups to think that they could exploit a political vacuum. Certainly the report clearly shows that both the Real Irish Republican Army (RIRA) and the Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA) have been more active at the same time in recent months. The reports picture of an increased threat by dissident republicans including a high level of threat to police officers, is obviously a matter of concern, and the PSNI and security services continue to work to counter it. They should be commended for this work when the threat is so firmly targeted at their own officers.
The report confirms the assessment made in previous reports that the PIRA has maintained an exclusively political path and has completely relinquished the leadership and other structures appropriate to a time of armed conflict. In other words it is redundant.
The IMC is clear that, while there is intent by some loyalists to proceed along a peaceful path, progress has been disappointingly slow with some members being involved in criminality for personal gain. The message to the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) is clear: It must recognise that the organisations time as a paramilitary group has passed and that decommissioning is inevitable. The report points both the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and the UDA to my Statement in May that the legal protection for decommissioning will go sooner rather than later.
The Government will look closely at the conclusions reached by the IMC. Once again, I am grateful to the commission for the submission of this report and for its careful analysis. The report offers a clear picture of both the extraordinary progress made and the challenges ahead to secure an end to paramilitarism in Northern Ireland and the devolution of policing and justice.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): My honourable friend the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Bill Rammell) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
Following the statement on civil nuclear co-operation with India on 6 September 2008 by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG),which provides an exception from the NSG guidelines for exports to civil nuclear facilities in India that are safeguarded by the IAEA,the UK Government have reviewed their policy towards nuclear-related exports to India. The details of the new policy position are as follows and will take effect immediately.
Since March 2002 UK policy has been to refuse all licence applications for trigger-list items to India. That policy has now changed and we will now consider on a case-by-case basis licence applications for peaceful use of all items on the NSG trigger list and NSG dual-use list when they are destined for IAEA-safeguarded civil nuclear facilities in India. Applications will be considered against the NSG guidelines for nuclear transfers, in accordance with the NSG statement of 6 September 2008.
We will also continue to consider on a case-by-case basis all applications to export other items assessed as licensable, including those assessed as licensable under the WMD end-use control, taking into account in particular:the risk of use in, or diversion to, unsafeguarded nuclear fuel cycle or nuclear explosive activities, or acts of nuclear terrorism; the risk of possible onward transfer of these items to other states for proliferation purposes, including the recipient states export control performance; and the potential utility of the items concerned for, and contribution that they would make to, such activities.
We will continue to consider applications for exports that will contribute to the physical protection or security of military nuclear facilities or assets in India. Licences may be issued in exceptional cases, consistent with our obligations and commitments.
We will continue to encourage contacts between UK nuclear scientists, academics and those working in or with the UK nuclear industry with their Indian counterparts, except where we consider that such contacts might be of assistance to the weapons-related aspects of its nuclear programme. Where such contacts involve the transfer of technology which requires export licences we will continue to consider applications for such licences on a case-by-case basis, in accordance with the provisions of UK export control legislation.
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