Trident to go within “months” of independence

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   By a Newsnet reporter

An SNP MSP has dismissed claims that the Trident nuclear missile system could remain in Scotland for as long as 20 years after independence, saying that the weapons could go within months.

John Wilson MSP, a noted opponent of nuclear weapons, says that the SNP will honour their commitment to get rid of the weapons from Scotland, adding that only independence can guarantee their removal.

Earlier this week, Professor Malcolm Chalmers of the think-tank the Royal United Services Institute, claimed that the “most likely scenario” after independence would be a “long-term basing arrangement for Trident”, and that nuclear weapons could remain in an independent Scotland for as long as 20 years.

Despite the claims of Professor Chalmers, there is no mechanism – short of an illegal military occuptation – by which Westminster could force an independent sovereign Scotland to host nuclear weapons against Scotland’s will.  The Scottish government has the power to embark upon a decommissioning process immediately after independence.

Professor Chalmers argued that such a policy may not be to Scotland’s advantage, saying that the Scottish Goverment “may welcome a very strong long-term UK commitment to supporting Scotland’s maritime and air patrol. The UK itself wouldn’t want to leave itself vulnerable, so there could be a surge of interest there, provided the Trident issue was solved.”

Professor Hew Strachan of Oxford University, argued that Scottish membership of NATO may be blocked if Scotland insists on a no-nuclear policy, saying:  “A principled opposition to nuclear weapons and then an aspiration to negotiate entry [into Nato] would be very difficult indeed.”

However the SNP remains determined to remove nuclear weapons from Scotland as soon as is possible, and has pointed out that the great majority of NATO members are not nuclear states and will not host nuclear weapons on their territory. 

It has also been argued that the stationing of nuclear weapons on Scottish soil after independence may be in breach of United Nations non-profileration treaties and Scotland would be obliged by international law to seek the removal of Trident as soon as possible.

Mr Wilson said:

“The Trident weapons system will only be removed from Scotland when we achieve independence.  Commitments have been given by Alex Salmond that Trident weapons will be decommissioned within months of the elections in May 2016 and an SNP victory.  The SNP will deliver on the promise to finally rid Scotland of nuclear weapons.

“The anti-nuclear movement throughout Europe and the rest of the world are watching with interest the developments in Scotland and look to the decision to remove nuclear weapons as a catalyst for removal of weapons completely.”