Letter: Curb on weapons

Sir: Preventing the global spread of weapons of mass destruction is an urgent priority. Today (12 March), MPs can make their contribution by supporting the Nuclear Safeguards Bill in the Commons.

If enacted, this Bill will enable the UK to ratify an additional protocol to its Nuclear Safeguards Agreement of 1976. This will form part of an international process whereby states are asked to give International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors increased access to nuclear and nuclear- related facilities.

The inadequacy of existing safeguards was demonstrated by the discovery - only made possible following the Gulf war - of a clandestine nuclear weapons programme in Iraq, despite that country having in place a comprehensive safeguards agreement with the IAEA.

To date, 36 states, including all EU member states, have signed protocols with the IAEA but only five have ratified. Early ratification by the UK would demonstrate this country's willingness to take a lead in global efforts to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons.


Executive Director, International Security Information Service

London EC1