Westminster tweets of the week

Luke Pollard MP questions government on recycling nuclear submarines

Luke Pollard MP asked the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, “What discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Defence on extending the provisions of the Energy Act 2004 to include recycling nuclear submarines.”

Andrew Stephenson responded “Officials in my Department have had several discussions with their counterparts in the Ministry of Defence on how the expertise and resources of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority can best assist the submarine dismantling programme. However, we do not believe that extending the provisions of the Energy Act 2004 would provide an appropriate addition to that support.”

Luke Pollard followed up “I thank the Minister for his reply, but it is disappointing that that is the first time a Minister has said no to the cross-party request to extend the civil clean-up of nuclear sites to include old nuclear submarines, of which there are 13 in Devonport and six in Rosyth. Will the Minister lend the same support as his predecessor did and agree to meet the cross-party campaign? We have to find a way to safely recycle the submarines.”

Andrew Stephenson responded “The disposal of nuclear submarines is a complex and challenging undertaking that I last discussed with the Minister for defence procurement, the Under-Secretary of State for Defence, my hon. Friend Stuart Andrew, yesterday. As the hon. Gentleman will know from the meeting he had earlier this year, the Government have an established programme of work in place and are committed to the safe, secure and cost-effective defuelling and dismantling of all decommissioned nuclear submarines as soon as practically possible. I am more than happy to meet the hon. Gentleman to discuss the matter further.”

Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP questions Government on Trident D-5 missile

Anne-Marie Trevelyan asked the Secretary of State for Defence, “how long it would take, and at what cost, for her Department to procure a Trident D-5 missile.”

Stuart Andrew, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence, responded “The UK’s Trident II D5 missiles form part of a pool of available missiles shared with the US. The UK pays an annual contribution to the continued maintenance of the missile stock based on our share of the overall missile inventory.”

Governments of France, Germany and the UK release a statement on the Iran nuclear deal

In a joint statement, the leaders of France, Germany and the United Kingdom said: 


“We, the leaders of France, Germany and the United Kingdom, sharing common security interests, in particular upholding the non-proliferation regime, recall our continuing commitment to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) that was agreed upon 4 years ago with Iran, on 14 July 2015.

Since 2003, our 3 countries, later joined by the United States, Russia and China, have been engaged in a long-standing and determined policy vis à vis Iran with the clear objective that this country, a party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, respects its obligations in good faith and never develops or acquires a nuclear weapon.

Together, we have stated unambiguously on 8 May 2018 our regret and concern after the decision of the United States to withdraw from the JCPoA and to re-impose sanctions on Iran, while this country had implemented its commitments under the agreement – as consistently confirmed by the IAEA until last month. Since May 2018, our 3 countries have made their best efforts to work with all the remaining parties to the deal to ensure that the Iranian people could continue to benefit from the legitimate economic advantages provided by the JCPoA.

Today, we are concerned by the risk that the JCPoA further unravels under the strain of sanctions imposed by the United States and following Iran’s decision to no longer implement several of the central provisions of the agreement. We are extremely concerned by Iran’s decision to stockpile and enrich uranium in excess of authorised limits. Moreover, our three countries are deeply troubled by the attacks we have witnessed in the Persian Gulf and beyond, and by the deterioration of the security in the region.

We believe the time has come to act responsibly and seek a path to stop the escalation of tensions and resume dialogue. The risks are such that it is necessary for all stakeholders to pause and consider the possible consequences of their actions.

Our countries have recently taken several diplomatic initiatives to contribute to de-escalation and dialogue, for which signs of goodwill are urgently needed, from all sides. While we continue to support the JCPoA, its continuation is contingent on Iran’s full compliance, and we strongly urge Iran to reverse its recent decisions in this regard. We will continue to explore the avenues of dialogue foreseen under the agreement to address Iran’s compliance, including through the Joint Commission of the JCPoA.

In search of a resolution we will continue our active engagement with all interested parties, in the interest of the preservation of international peace and security.”

Westminster tweets of the week


Deidre Brock MP questions Government on foreign vessels carrying nuclear weapons

Deidre Brock asked the Secretary of State for Defence, “how many visits there have been to UK naval bases by foreign vessels carrying nuclear weapons in each of the last ten years; which bases those vessels visited; and what nations those vessels originated from.”

Penny Mordaunt, Secretary of State for Defence, responded “It is UK and NATO policy to neither confirm nor deny the presence of nuclear weapons onboard specific ships or submarines at any particular place or time, for the purposes of safeguarding national security and international relations.”

Steve Double MP questions government on Iran’s production of low-enriched uranium

Steve Double asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, “what assessment he has made of the accuracy of reports that Iran has quadrupled its production of low-enriched uranium.

Andrew Murrison, Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Office responded “We are seriously concerned about Iranian statements about its commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA), including Iran crossing its low enriched uranium stockpile limit on 1 July, and are working with our JCPoA partners to keep the nuclear deal in place. We have been consistently clear that our commitment to the JCPoA depends on Iran complying in full with the terms of the deal. We believe maintaining the nuclear deal is in the best interests of Iran, the region and the UK.”

Marquess of Lothian questions government on US and Iran relations

The Marquess of Lothian asked her Majesty’s Government, “To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the tweet of the President of the United States on Friday 21 June that the United States had been “cocked & loaded to retaliate” following the shooting down of an unmanned United States drone in Iran, whether they were (1) given advance notice, and (2) consulted, by the United States authorities ahead of the planned United States military strike on 20 June against three Iranian sites; and what explanation they have (a) sought from, and (b) been given by, the government of the United States about that strike, particularly given British assets in that region.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office responded “​We share the President’s concern about aggressive Iranian behaviour, particularly in the region. On 20 June, a US drone was shot down in international air space. Iran has claimed responsibility but argued the drone was in Iranian airspace. As we have consistently said, our priority remains finding diplomatic solutions to de-escalate tensions. The specifics of this operation are a matter for US authorities. We continue to monitor the situation. The UK remains in close coordination with international partners, including the US, to find diplomatic solutions to de-escalate tensions.”