Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Nuclear-Free Zone.

Wednesday, 9 May 1984

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 350 No. 2

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15.

Mr. Gregory-Independent: Information on Tony Gregory  Zoom on Tony Gregory  asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he favours the declaration of Ireland as a nuclear-free zone; and if any action is envisaged at Government level in this regard.

Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. P. Barry): Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  The concept of a Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone is understood internationally to mean arrangements to be free of nuclear weapons entered into by a group of states in a region. The only Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone created by international agreement was established in 1967 under the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America. To date, no state has individually declared itself a Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone.

Ireland is a state party to the 1968 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and hence under obligation not to manufacture or acquire nuclear weapons. Of course there is no question of allowing other states to site nuclear weapons here. The principal elements of a Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone, namely, non-possession, non-deployment and non-use of nuclear weapons are, therefore, met in our case.

Mr. Gregory-Independent: Information on Tony Gregory  Zoom on Tony Gregory  Have any discussions taken place with the major [487] nuclear powers, the United States and the USSR, with a view to obtaining status for this country as a nuclear-free zone? If such discussions have not taken place, is it intended to initiate them? Has any commitment been sought or obtained from the British government that nuclear weapons will not be sited in the Northern six counties?

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  As I said in my reply, Ireland is a state party to the 1968 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and hence under obligation not to manufacture or acquire nuclear weapons. We have received assurances from the British government that nuclear weapons will not be sited in the North.

Mr. Gregory-Independent: Information on Tony Gregory  Zoom on Tony Gregory  Have the Government discussed obtaining international recognition for this country as a nuclear-free area with the United States and the USSR?

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  We have obtained it. We are a sovereign State and we have decided that we will not manufacture or acquire nuclear weapons.

Mr. G. Collins: Information on Gerard Collins  Zoom on Gerard Collins  What is the Government's position with regard to the siting of nuclear weapons in Northern Ireland?

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  We approached the British Government about this and received an assurance that there is no intention of siting nuclear weapons in the North of Ireland. We accept this assurance.

Mr. Wilson: Information on John P. Wilson  Zoom on John P. Wilson  I am a bit suspicious of them.

Mr. De Rossa: Information on Prionsias De Rossa  Zoom on Prionsias De Rossa  Is the Minister saying that we are a nuclear free zone and that it is simply a matter of declaring so?

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  No, the concept of a nuclear weapon free zone is understood internationally to mean an arrangement to be free of nuclear weapons entered into by a group of states in a region. If that description is correct, one state on [488] its own could not be a nuclear free zone but we are a nuclear free country.


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