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Public Papers - 1991

London Economic Summit Declaration on Conventional Arms Transfers and Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Weapons Proliferation

1991-07-16

1. At our meeting in Houston last year, we, the Heads of State and Government and the representatives of the European Community, underlined the threats to international security posed by the proliferation of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and of associated missile delivery systems. The Gulf crisis has highlighted the dangers posed by the unchecked spread of these weapons and by excessive holdings of conventional weapons. The responsibility to prevent the re-emergence of such dangers is to be shared by both arms suppliers and recipient countries as well as the international community as a whole. As is clear from the various initiatives which several of us have proposed jointly and individually, we are each determined to tackle, in appropriate fora, these dangers both in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Conventional Arms Transfers

2. We accept that many states depend on arms imports to assure a reasonable level of security and the inherent right of self-defence is recognised in the United Nations Charter. Tensions will persist in international relations so long as underlying conflicts of interest are not tackled and resolved. But the Gulf conflict showed the way in which peace and stability can be undermined when a country is able to acquire a massive arsenal that goes far beyond the needs of self defence and threatens its neighbours. We are determined to ensure such abuse should not happen again. We believe that progress can be made if all states apply the three principles of transparency, consultation and action.

3. The principle of transparency should be extended to international transfers of conventional weapons and associated military technology. As a step in this direction we support the proposal for a universal register of arms transfers under the auspices of the United Nations, and will work for its early adoption. Such a register would alert the international community to an attempt by a state to build up holdings of conventional weapons beyond a reasonable level. Information should be provided by all states on a regular basis after transfers have taken place. We also urge greater openness about overall holdings of conventional weapons. We believe the provision of such data, and a procedure for seeking clarification, would be a valuable confidence and security building measure.

4. The principle of consultation should now be strengthened through the rapid implementation of recent initiatives for discussions among leading arms exporters with the aim of agreeing a common approach to the guidelines which are applied in the transfer of conventional weapons. We welcome the recent opening of discussions on this subject. These include the encouraging talks in Paris among the Permanent Members of the United Nations Security Council on 8/9 July; as well as ongoing discussions within the framework of the European Community and its Member States. Each of us will continue to play a constructive part in this important process, in these and other appropriate fora.

5. The principle of action requires all of us to take steps to prevent the building up of disproportionate arsenals. To that end all countries should refrain from arms transfers which would be destabilising or would exacerbate existing tensions. Special restraint should be exercised in the transfer of advanced technology weapons and in sales to countries and areas of particular concern. A special effort should be made to define sensitive items and production capacity for advanced weapons, to the transfer of which similar restraints could be applied. All states should take steps to ensure that these criteria are strictly enforced. We intend to give these issues our continuing close attention.

6. Iraqi aggression and the ensuing Gulf war illustrate the huge costs to the international community of military conflict. We believe that moderation in the level of military expenditure is a key aspect of sound economic policy and good government. While all countries are struggling with competing claims on scarce resources, excessive spending on arms of all kinds diverts resources from the overriding need to tackle economic development. It can also build up large debts without creating the means by which these may be serviced. We note with favour the recent report issued by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the recent decisions by several donor countries to take account of military expenditure where it is disproportionate when setting up aid programmes and encourage all other donor countries to take similar action. We welcome the attention which the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the President of the World Bank have recently given to excessive military spending, in the context of reducing unproductive public expenditure.

Non-Proliferation

7. We are deeply concerned about the proliferation of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and missile delivery systems. We are determined to combat this menace by strengthening and expanding the non-proliferation regimes.

8. Iraq must fully abide by Security Council Resolution 687, which sets out requirements for the destruction, removal or rendering harmless under international supervision of its nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare and missile capabilities; as well as for verification and long-term monitoring to ensure that Iraq's capability for such weapon systems is not developed in the future. Consistent with the relevant UN resolutions, we will provide every assistance to the United Nations Special Commission and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) so that they can fully carry out their tasks.

9. In the nuclear field, we:

-- Re-affirm our will to work to establish the widest possible consensus in favour of an equitable and stable non-proliferation regime based on a balance between nuclear non-proliferation and the development of peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

-- Reaffirm the importance of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and call on all other non-signatory states to subscribe to this agreement;

-- Call on all non-nuclear weapon states to submit all their nuclear activities to IAEA safeguards, which are the cornerstone of the international non-proliferation regime;

-- Urge all supplier states to adopt and implement the Nuclear Suppliers Group guidelines.

We welcome the decision of Brazil and Argentina to conclude a full-scope safeguard agreement with the IAEA and to take steps to bring the Treaty of Tlatelolco into force, as well as the accession of South Africa to the NPT.

10. Each of us will also work to achieve:

-- Our common purpose of maintaining and reinforcing the NPT regime beyond 1995;

-- A strengthened and improved IAEA safeguards system;

-- New measures in the Nuclear Suppliers Group to ensure adequate export controls on dual-use items.

11. We anticipate that the Biological Weapons Review Conference in September will succeed in strengthening implementation of the convention's existing provisions by reinforcing and extending its confidence-building measures and exploring the scope for effective verification measures. Each of us will encourage accession to the convention by other states and urge all parties strictly to fulfil their obligations under the convention. We each believe that a successful Review Conference leading to strengthened implementation of the BWC, would make an important contribution to preventing the proliferation of biological weapons.

12. The successful negotiation of a strong, comprehensive, and effectively verifiable convention banning chemical weapons, to which all states subscribe, is the best way to prevent the spread of chemical weapons. We welcome recent announcements by the United States which we believe will contribute the swift conclusion of such a convention. We hope that the negotiation will be successfully concluded as soon as possible. We reaffirm our intention to become original parties to the convention. We urge others to become parties at the earliest opportunity so that it can enter into force as soon as possible.

13. We must also strengthen controls on exports which could contribute to the proliferation of biological and chemical weapons. We welcome the measures taken by members of the Australia Group and by other states on the control of exports of chemical weapons precursors and related equipment. We seek to achieve increasingly close convergence of practice between all exporting states. We urge all states to support these efforts.

14. Our aim is a total and effective ban on chemical and biological weapons. Use of such weapons is an outrage against humanity. In the event that a state uses such weapons each of us agrees to give immediate consideration to imposing severe measures against it both in the UN Security Council and elsewhere.

15. The spread of missile delivery systems has added a new dimension of instability to international security in many regions of the world. As the founders of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), we welcome its extension to many other states in the last two years. We endorse the joint appeal issued at the Tokyo MTCR meeting in March 1991 for all countries to adopt these guidelines. These are not intended to inhibit cooperation in the use of space for peaceful and scientific purposes.

16. We can make an important contribution to reducing the dangers of proliferation and conventional arms transfers. Our efforts and consultations on these issues, including with other supplier countries, will be continued in all appropriate fora so as to establish a new climate of global restraint. We will only succeed if others, including recipient countries, support us and if the international community unites in a new effort to remove these threats which can imperil the safety of all our peoples.

16 July 1991

Note: The declaration was made available by the Office of the Press Secretary but was not issued as a White House press release.

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