LONDON: A Labour former defence minister stunned peers by suggesting that a neutron bomb could be used to create a "cordon sanitaire" in troubled border regions such as the one between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
In a Lords debate on multi-lateral nuclear disarmament, Lord Gilbert said the use of such weapons could "greatly reduce problems of protecting those borders", adding: "These things are not talked about but they should be...."
Lord Gilbert said that what used to be called a neutron bomb, but was actually an enhanced radiation reduced blast weapon (ERRB), could have "many uses" today.
"I think you could use an ERRB warhead to create a cordon sanitaire around various borders where people are causing trouble these days."
Meanwhile, Labour former defence secretary Lord Browne of Ladyton rounded on Lord Gilbert over his remarks, accusing him of being at his "most challenging and contrarian".
Cabinet Office spokesman Lord Wallace of Saltaire said the Government did not share Lord Gilbert's "rumbustious" views on the sensitive issue. "The UK retains a firm commitment to the long-term goal of a world without nuclear weapons," he said. "Our aim is to build an international environment in which no state feels the need to possess nuclear weapons - an environment that will allow nuclear states to disarm in a balanced and verifiable manner."