Bishop of Coventry tables question on nuclear weapons

The Bishop of Coventry tabled a question on reconciling differences between states with nuclear weapons and states without nuclear weapons on 12th January 2022:

The Lord Bishop of Coventry: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to reconcile differences between nuclear possessor states and non-nuclear possessor states at the Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con, Foreign Office): My Lords, the United Kingdom recognises its responsibilities as a bridge builder among nuclear weapon and non-nuclear weapon states at the 10th review conference on the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. To support discussions, we are submitting working papers on transparency, verification and peaceful uses. We will host side events including a joint P5 event on doctrines and policy.

The Lord Bishop of Coventry: I thank the Minister for his response and wholeheartedly welcome the recent P5 affirmation of the Gorbachev-Reagan principle. But in an unstable world where nuclear proliferation is a growing threat and widespread arsenal modernisation is a reality, these words must be backed up by actions—since the grand bargain of the NPT is that non-proliferation can be successful only if pursued in tandem with disarmament. Would the Government consider initiating a P5+ process to allow nuclear weapon states and non-possessor states to work collaboratively on key areas of concern? Mindful of the upcoming TPNW first meeting of states parties, will he explain the strategy for engaging constructively with the concerns underlying the TPNW in preparation for the forthcoming NPT conference in the common cause of disarmament?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: My Lords, within the NPT, as the right reverend Prelate will know, there are three key strands: disarmament, non-proliferation, and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Like him, I recognise the importance earlier this month of the P5 declaration. The UK was instrumental in getting that over the line. We are looking forward to the review conference of the NPT, which was unfortunately delayed because of Covid, but I understand it will now take place in August. On the issue of nuclear against non-nuclear states, through the P5 format we are engaging directly with those countries. With the exception of four or five countries, everyone else has signed up to the NPT and we have a structured programme of engagement. On the TPNW specifically, the UK firmly believes that the only way to achieve a world without nuclear weapons is through gradual multilateral disarmament, and the best way to do that is through the NPT.


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