Korean Peninsula

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons on 25th March 2019.

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Photo of Kevin Foster Kevin Foster Conservative, Torbay

What recent assessment he has made of the security situation in the Korean peninsula.

Photo of Gavin Williamson Gavin Williamson The Secretary of State for Defence

The security situation on the Korean peninsula has improved since North Korea adopted a self-imposed moratorium on missile launches. North Korea almost certainly wishes to avoid conflict; however the balance of hard military power on the peninsula has not altered substantively recently. North Korea needs to engage in meaningful negotiations with the United States and take concrete steps towards complete denuclearisation.

Photo of Kevin Foster Kevin Foster Conservative, Torbay

The failure of recent talks aimed at securing denuclearisation in North Korea was disappointing, although I welcome South Korea’s attempt to revive them. Will my right hon. Friend assure me that UK Government support for any agreement reached in future would be dependent on a commitment by North Korea to complete denuclearisation?

Photo of Gavin Williamson Gavin Williamson The Secretary of State for Defence

We have been absolutely consistent that there must be complete denuclearisation, and while it is disappointing as to where talks have gone we must remain hopeful that pressure can be applied for North Korea to come back to the table in order to be able to reinvigorate these discussions going forward.

Photo of Mike Gapes Mike Gapes Independent, Ilford South

Will the Government make it clear that North Korea cannot play games, as it has done for more than 20 years, just wanting to get sanctions lifted or get economic support from outside and then reverting back to its old policies, and that there will be consequences internationally if it does that?

Photo of Gavin Williamson Gavin Williamson The Secretary of State for Defence

The hon. Gentleman makes an important point, and I remember visiting South Korea with him back in, I think, 2010 or 2011 where we looked at this. It is vital that Britain stands shoulder to shoulder with our UN friends in terms of the imposition and enforcement of sanctions, which the Royal Navy has been leading on with our other UN partners.

Photo of Philip Hollobone Philip Hollobone Conservative, Kettering

Is or is not North Korea degrading its nuclear capability?

Photo of Gavin Williamson Gavin Williamson The Secretary of State for Defence

We continue to monitor what is happening in North Korea. It is vitally important that we work with other allies, including the People’s Republic of China, to put pressure on North Korea in order to reduce the amount of nuclear testing it has in the past been conducting.