New Forest East


Dr Julian Lewis: Like most of the contributors so far, I welcome this development, but will the Foreign Secretary bear it in mind that the world also breathed a sigh of relief in 1972 on the signing of the biological weapons convention, only to discover, after a defection in 1989, that Russia had been cheating on a massive and industrial scale? We must always hope for the best in such negotiations, but I hope he will bear it in mind that we must also be prepared for the worst.

[The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr Philip Hammond): I take my right hon. Friend’s cautionary statement. Of course, the difference in the case of Russia’s cheating on the biological weapons agreements was that we did not have the kind of comprehensive intrusive inspections and access regime that we will have in relation to Iran. He is right, however, that while we should go forward with optimism, as others have suggested, we should also be cautious and recognise that there is a big deficit of trust to overcome. We need these access and inspection regimes, and we need to proceed cautiously, not least because, if we cannot reassure our partners in the region that we are approaching this cautiously and sensibly, we will lose them and we will not be able to encourage them to engage in the way we want to see.]