Tuesday, April 05, 2005

No Nuclear repair assurance "Priority for Spain", says PSOE

Gib sub visits in Madrid parliament

Spanish Government has declared that it shortly expects to have a written commitment from the British Government regarding an end to repairs to the nuclear systems of submarines in Gibraltar.

Responding to parliamentary questions from the Partido Popular opposition in the Cortes, a PSOE spokesman quoted by Europa Press yesterday said that "this is a priority issue for the Spanish Government."

At the meeting of the Tripartite Forum for Dialogue in Malaga held last February, Spain included this request in the agreed text at the end of the talks. Chief Minister Peter Caruana also declared that although he objected to repairs to a submarine's nuclear components being carried out locally, he welcomed the continued use of Gibraltar for operational and recreational visits and for maintenance and non-nuclear repairs.

The PSOE parliamentary reply stated that the Spanish Ministry of Defence, Ministerio de Defensa is informed in advance of British nuclear submarine visits to Gibraltar and other Spanish ports that are equipped to handle such visits through NATO arrangements. However this is classified information that is never made public in advance of such visits "for obvious security reasons."

Meanwhile the PSOE spokesman added that the Spanish Government "had never said that no more nuclear submarines would be calling at the port of Gibraltar in future, or at the ports of Palma de Mallorca, Cartagena or Rota."

He recalled that in May 2001 the then Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Piqué, announced that his UK counterpart Robin Cook had given him a verbal commitment that there would be no more nuclear repairs to British submarines in Gibraltar.

Europa Press adds:

"Despite the reiterated protests at the presence of nuclear submarines in the Rock, the British Government has never given a commitment to stop its nuclear submarines from visiting Gibraltar for repairs."

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