NATO Nuclear Forces

236. All the United Kingdom's nuclear forces are assigned to NATO and are fully integrated into NATO's planning. With HMS Victorious' entry into service, Trident's sub-strategic capability has also become available to the Alliance.


Arms Control, Disarmament and Confidence and Security-Building Measures

248. The third and final year of the Reduction Phase of the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty ended on 16 November. By that time, nearly 50,000 items of military hardware had been destroyed or converted to non-military uses. Of this equipment, the countries of central and eastern Europe had reduced nearly 34,000 items.

249. The CFE Treaty is an undoubted success. In addition to the reduction of armaments, the implementation of an elaborate and intrusive verification regime, involving large numbers of military inspectors to and from the 30 States Parties, has built considerable confidence between former Cold War adversaries. Importantly, military deployments in Europe are now more transparent, thus facilitating the provision of early warning of any concentration of equipment which could be used for a surprise attack by one state against another.

250. During the three years of the Reduction Period, the United Kingdom conducted over 100 inspections to most central and eastern European states. Those inspections included our personnel acting as "guest" inspectors on teams led by other NATO and partner states.

251. Post-reduction validation inspections after the end of the Reduction Period on 16 November confirmed that most States Parties had reduced their equipment holdings to the limits set by the Treaty. However, a small number had not completed their reduction liabilities by the deadline. The United Kingdom's objective is to encourage all States Parties to comply fully with their Treaty obligations, and verification inspections will continue to monitor progress towards this.

252. Implementation of the Treaty has not been without problems. More serious concerns include the so-called "flank issue", with Russia wishing to station more military equipment in the flank zones than the Treaty allows; the outstanding equipment in Belarus and reductions associated with the disputed Black Sea Fleet in the Crimea; and the treatment of the holdings of Armenia and Azerbaijan, which is complicated by the conflict between the two states. These problems are being addressed by the Joint Consultative Group in Vienna.

253. A CFE Treaty Review Conference will convene shortly to conduct a review of the operation of the Treaty. The United Kingdom believes that, despite the significant geopolitical changes that have occurred since its signature in 1990, the Treaty's fundamental aims remain relevant to the future. The commitment to maintain reduced force levels and the transparency of the arrangements for the detailed exchange of information, together with the acceptance of an intrusive verification regime, will continue to provide an important building block for the new European security architecture. Verification activity will continue indefinitely, enabling further confidence and trust to be built between signatory states.

254. The OSCE is the principal forum in which the future agenda for conventional arms control in Europe is discussed. The United Kingdom is contributing to several new initiatives within the OSCE, including efforts to develop an integrated framework for future European arms control and, as part of the Dayton agreement, an arms control regime for the former Yugoslavia.

255. The OSCE's Vienna Document 1994 is a politically-binding agreement covering a series of confidence- and security-building measures, such as the exchange of military information, prior notification of large-scale military activities, military co-operation and contacts, and a compliance and verification regime. During the year to April 1996, the United Kingdom made 13 outgoing visits under the Vienna Document and received one visit to formations and units of British forces. We also participated in 11 exchanges under the Document's military contacts provisions; most of these were with the countries of central and eastern Europe.

256. Of the 24 states that signed the Open Skies Treaty in 1992, all but three (Russia, Ukraine and Belarus) have completed ratification. We hope for ratification by these three states in 1996, after which the Treaty can enter into force. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom has exercised over the last year with Ukraine, Italy, Greece, Slovakia, France and Romania. We have also made a significant contribution, using our Open Skies Andover aircraft, in gathering technical data to assist in preparation for entry into force; and are investigating ways in which our Open Skies aircraft might in future act in support of peacekeeping and other arms control regimes.

257. We welcome and support the objectives of the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies. The Arrangement, in which Russia and other partner countries from central and eastern Europe are involved, would play a useful role in promoting greater openness and responsibility in the transfer of potentially destabilising equipments. As such, it would represent an important evolution from the export control arrangements that applied during the Cold War. We hope that it will prove possible to reach agreement on the Arrangement in the near future.