UK Publishes Chemical Defence Programme

Ministry of Defence Press Release, 27 April 1998

The Ministry of Defence today published a summary of its Chemical Defence Programme. In answer to a Parliamentary Question from Brian Sedgemore MP (Hackney South and Shoreditch) Dr John Reid, Minister of State for the Armed Forces, confirmed that, in keeping with the Government's commitment to openness, the 1997 summary document has been placed in the library of the House of Commons.

The summary document contains information relating to research and development, procurement of equipment and training issues within the chemical defence programme - and demonstrates that the UK's programme is structured to protect servicemen and women.

Dr Reid said of the publication:

'As a State Party to the Chemical Weapons Convention, the UK is fully committed to the global elimination of chemical weapons. The UK's defence programme is part of the our commitment to reduce the possibility that any potential aggressor could use such weapons to terrorise the world.

'The basis of the UK's programme is scientific research and development. Our troops are highly trained to overcome the physical and psychological burdens of operating in worst case scenarios of chemical attack. The very best in detection and protection technology is crucial to ensure that our forces can operate in all circumstances.'

The Chemical Defence Summary 1997 has also been submitted to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague.

The Chemical Weapons Convention, which entered into force on April 29 1997, outlaws the development, production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons. Activities related to protection against toxic chemicals and chemical weapons are not prohibited.

In order to increase the transparency of national chemical defence programmes, Article X of the Convention requires each State Party to provide an annual summary of its chemical defence programme.