Bizarre WMD statement leaves anti-independence case ‘falling down about their ears’ says SNP


  By G.A.Ponsonby
A bizarre statement by the UK Government over whether an independent Scotland would have nuclear weapons has been described by the SNP as leaving the pro-Union case “falling down about their ears”.
According to the Scotland on Sunday newspaper, the UK Government has “confirmed that Scotland would be banned from having nuclear weapons after independence.”

The statement is based on non-proliferation treaty rules which, according to the Coalition Government would mean that a newly independent Scotland would not be entitled to have weapons of mass destruction on the Clyde.

The newspaper reports that the official Westminster view is that: “The future of the UK’s nuclear weapons and facilities would be an important issue to be resolved.  Under international law, an independent Scotland would not be recognised as a state entitled to possess a nuclear deterrent.”

It adds: “each nuclear-weapon state party to the treaty undertakes not to transfer to any recipient whatsoever nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or control over such weapons or explosive devices directly, or indirectly.”

However the SNP has responded by describing the latest intervention by Westminster into the independence debate as “music to the ears of the Scottish people”.

Commenting , SNP Defence spokesperson Angus Robertson said:

“First the UK Government’s own legal adviser agreed that the Scottish Government’s timescale for independence was ‘realistic’, and now the paper published by the coalition says that nuclear weapons won’t be allowed in an independent Scotland – which will be music to the ears of the Scottish people.

“The SNP already propose to make weapons of mass destruction illegal in the constitution of an independent Scotland.

“The Tory-led Government’s anti-independence case is falling down about their ears – how on earth can they talk about keeping nuclear weapons in a country that isn’t allowed to have them?

“This underlines that the way to get rid of Trident nuclear weapons from Scotland as quickly as possible, and ensure that Faslane has a secure future as Scotland’s naval base, is to vote Yes for independence next autumn.”

The issue of nuclear weapons on the Clyde was brought into sharp focus recently after several Labour and Conservative party politicians claimed that thousands of jobs would be lost if the nuclear weapons system was removed from Scotland.

However there was confusion over the real number of jobs affected after Labour MP Ian Davidson claimed the total was 19000 but party colleague, MSP Jackie Baillie, said 11,000 jobs would be lost.

There was further confusion after UK Defence spokesman Philip Dunne said that only 6,700 military and civilian jobs were reliant on Trident, with a further 1500 if the planned renewal of the nuclear weapons system goes ahead.

Last year an official answer from the MoD revealed that only 520 jobs rely directly on nuclear weapons.  They identified a total of 159 Ministry of Defence jobs in Scotland and 254 jobs at Babcock Marine as being dependent on Trident, as well as 107 jobs at Lockheed Martin UK Strategic Systems.

A report commissioned by Scottish CND in 2007 put the total number of direct and indirect jobs resulting from the Trident nuclear weapons system at just 1536.

The SNP has said that the future of the Faslane naval base would be secure in an independent Scotland which would concentrate defence spend on conventional naval and army forces and equipment.