Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:12 pm on 5th February 2019.

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Photo of Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Minister of State 7:12 pm, 5th February 2019

Taking the noble Lord’s last question first, he will know that the INF treaty is a bilateral treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union, as it then was, although he raised an important point about nuclear weapons more generally. I assure him that the United Kingdom continues to work, particularly through alliances such as NATO, against the continued proliferation of such weapons and to ensure that the limitation that can be applied to them is upheld. That is why we welcomed further agreements that have been signed between the United States and Russia, particularly in relation to the New START agreement, which seeks to address this issue.

The noble Lord asked about the relationship and the discussions which have been taking place. He is quite right that in October we had talks on this issue. After that statement by the US, the current US Administration has initiated a series of meetings with close allies, including NATO. We continue to exchange detailed information on Russian violations and how we may best achieve shared policy objectives.

The other thing that I would bring to the noble Lord’s notice is that the US first declared Russia to be in breach of its compliance with the INF treaty back in 2014. At no point during that time has Russia provided a credible response. Indeed, the first response from Russia was that it was compliant. It was only in 2017 that it acknowledged that the missiles in question exist.

On whether there was a specific notification from the US on this occasion, we had already had discussions with the US. The message about the exact timing of the President’s public announcement was not communicated directly, but the recent announcement came as no surprise, bearing in mind the October announcement.