SNP to discuss nuclear weapons if independent says host
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The Scottish National Party (SNP) has long been against Trident, arguing that nuclear weapons are “immoral, ineffective and expensive”. This week it was reported that the UK Government has hatched secret plans to move its Trident nuclear submarine bases from Scotland to the US or France in the event of Scottish independence. It was also reported that should Scotland secede from the UK, the Government would consider a “nuclear Gibraltar” option – a reference to the British Overseas Territory bordering Spain.
This would mean Trident could be housed at the Royal Navy’s existing bases off Scotland’s west coast, which would remain British territories within Scotland.
The contingency plans were relayed to the Financial Times by several senior Whitehall officials.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is firmly against plans for Scotland to break away from the rest of Britain.
After Nicola Sturgeon led the SNP to victory in this year’s Scottish Parliament election, Mr Johnson said that in light of the pandemic it would be “irresponsible and reckless” to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence.
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Scots rejected independence in a public vote in 2014, but the SNP have since spoken about holding “indyref2”.
Concerns about the SNP achieving their goal of an independence stretch beyond just the UK Government and right into the heart of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), as an unearthed interview reveals.
Appearing on “The Andrew Marr Show” in 2019, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg described the importance of Trident to the 30-member military bloc, which he labelled a “nuclear alliance”.
He said: “Britain is a highly valued member of NATO for many reasons.
“You spend more than 2% on defence, you provide a lot of valuable, high-end capabilities and you have shown again and again you are willing to deploy when needed.
“Part of the UK contribution to NATO is of course the UK nuclear weapons – the nuclear deterrent – which contributes to the overall nuclear deterrent of NATO, which is something that is important for NATO.
“NATO’s goal is a world without nuclear weapons but we have to arrive there through viable, balanced nuclear arms control and disarmament.
“The world will not be safer if NATO got rid of all its nuclear weapons while countries like Russia, China, North Korea and other countries maintain their nuclear weapons.
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“So yes, we would like to see a world without nuclear weapons but as long as there are nuclear weapons, NATO will remain a nuclear alliance.”
In response to the reports about the Government’s independence contingency planning, the SNP have reaffirmed that Trident would not be allowed to remain in an independent Scotland.
The party’s defence spokesperson Stewart McDonald also rejected the “nuclear Gibraltar” outright.
He pledged that the clearance of nuclear weapons from naval bases would “happen at pace” in the event of independence.
Mr Stoltenberg has also previously warned those fighting for an independent Scotland that such an outcome would mean the country leaving the alliance.
In 2017 he told Sky News: “If it happens, then the UK will continue as a member of NATO.
“But a new independent state has to apply for membership and then it is up to 28 allies to decide whether we have a new member.
“All decisions in NATO are taken by consensus, so we need the consensus of all allies.
“By leaving the UK it will also be leaving NATO, but of course it is possible to apply for membership and then the allies would then decide whether the independent state would become a member of NATO.”
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