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1992 - Mr Major’s Doorstep Interview in New York

Below is the text of Mr Major’s doorstep interview in New York, held on Friday 31st January 1992.


PRIME MINISTER:

We have had a very wide-ranging and satisfactory debate thus far in the Security Council. I set out this morning some of the key elements that I thought would be the substance of our discussion, the powers of the United Nations peace-making, peace-keeping, non-proliferation, disarmament, and they and others have indeed proved to be the substance of what we have been discussing thus far.

What is particularly noticeable I believe is the atmosphere in which the discussions have taken place. It is certainly within the memory of many of the people in the United Nations today when President Khruschev was here banging his shoe on the table. We have seen a solid consensus that the United Nations needs strengthening and that we should set about that particular work speedily.

So thus far it has been a very satisfactory meeting and I look forward to our conclusion later on today.

QUESTION (John Sergeant):

You are going to announce restrictions on biological material this afternoon, can you tell us the extent of the problem and how those restrictions would work in practice?

PRIME MINISTER:

That is a domestic matter, that is a matter of UK legislation. We do have controls at present in the United Kingdom on items that can be exported that might be used for biological weapons. We propose to strengthen those and make them a matter for specific legislation and we will be setting out the full details of that shortly.

QUESTION:

Mr Yeltsin said that the success of the new world order you were discussing this morning depended in no small measure on the success of his reforms at home. What kind of things does he leave with to help believe that will occur?

PRIME MINISTER:

I think he came with something as well, he came with a permanent membership of the Security Council, he came with membership of the International Monetary Fund now firmly in view, he came in the belief that is being shown to be correct that there is widespread goodwill for assisting Russia throughout the world to ensure that their reforms are successful. I share his judgement, I think it is vitally important both for Russia and for everybody else that those reforms are successful and it is for that reason that the United Kingdom believes he should be given substantial help.

QUESTION:

[Indistinct] Shi’ite prisoners, what is your reaction to that?

PRIME MINISTER:

I have not seen those pictures yet, I am hoping to get a report on that later today and I will comment on it when I have had the report.

QUESTION:

What is your reaction to President Yeltsin’s call for [indistinct] security system?

PRIME MINISTER:

I think we have to examine precisely what that means and precisely how it would work. One of the features of the debate this morning is that a whole series of ideas have been produced, ideas in many cases that no-one was expecting. I think that is very refreshing and they are matters we will have to discuss in the future.

QUESTION:

Is there not some urgency in all of that because we shall not have the Secretary General’s report until July, the IMF probably until April, is there urgency there?

PRIME MINISTER:

I believe there is urgency. The idea for this particular meeting, the first time in 47 years we have had a meeting of the Security Council at Heads of Government level, that idea has been produced and acted upon very speedily, the response from the governments concerned has been very speedy, the Heads of Government have come. Now I believe that is an indication of the importance that people give to this meeting and taking the opportunities that exist at present to make this a safer world. That is why disarmament, non-proliferation and matters of this sort are the very substance of what is being discussed today.