By Andrew Barr
Labour First Minister Carwyn Jones has said Wales is ready to become the new home of Britain’s weapons of mass destruction following a Scottish ‘Yes’ vote in 2014.
The Welsh First Minister told members of his minority administration they should consider the “economic benefits such a relocation might bring should West Wales be an option”.
In June, Mr Jones said the nuclear weapons imposed upon Scotland would be “more than welcome” in Wales if relocation was required following independence. He later insisted any discussion on Scottish independence was “entirely academic”.
However it has been revealed that the “academic” discussions have made it into the official minutes of Welsh Cabinet meetings where members are being advised to consider the benefits of trident coming to Wales.
Welsh Nationalists have reacted angrily to the proposals with Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood summing up the attitude of Carwyn Jones as “Edinburgh gets the Green Investment Bank and Pembrokeshire gets weapons of mass destruction.”
SNP MSP Bill Kidd – a member of the Council of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament – said:
“Many people in Wales will be horrified that their First Minister is actively trying to have weapons of mass destruction based in Welsh waters.
“If they seriously think there are economic benefits to spending tens of billions of pounds on renewing Trident – especially at a time when the country is crying out for capital investment to support the economy – then it just shows how skewed their priorities are.
“But at least Carwyn Jones is willing to be upfront about his support for Trident nuclear weapons. Johann Lamont has repeatedly refused to say where she stands on renewing the UK’s weapons of mass destruction.
“In 1999 she claimed to back decommissioning, but her refusal to answer questions from Scottish CND leaves people in Scotland wondering where the Labour leader now stands on this important issue. It is high time for Johann Lamont to end her silence.
“The majority of Scottish voters oppose Trident. The majority of Scots MPs and MSPs reject Trident renewal. Our Churches and STUC do not want Trident.
“Trident nuclear weapons must be removed from Scotland – and independence is the only constitutional option which will make this happen.”
The Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament requested the views of all Scottish Labour leadership candidates in 2011. All candidates responded except for the now leader Johann Lamont who was contacted a total of four times to confirm her position.
Ms Lamont’s position remains unclear.
Becoming the next nuclear backyard of Britain has the potential to push Welsh voters in the direction of greater self-determination.
In June, Plaid Cymru issued a statement condemning the “warped priorities” that surround nuclear arsenal, arguing that money should not be spent on renewal whilst government cuts continue to effect the poorest in society.
Plaid Cymru’s Hywel Williams MP, said: “At a time when essential services such as health, education and social care are suffering deep and damaging cuts, the government’s warped sense of priorities is a cause for concern.
“This unnecessary spending exposes the Con-Dems’ double standards when it comes to balancing the books.
“We are constantly reminded of the mess left by Labour and the claim that the public purse is empty. Yet when it comes to wasteful wars and weapons of mass destruction, money seems to be no object.
“Plaid Cymru has consistently opposed spending on nuclear weapons, on both moral and financial grounds, maintaining that the plight of the poorest and most vulnerable in our society is more important than political posturing on the world stage.
“Calling on other countries to stop developing weapons while renewing our own is plain hypocrisy and threatens to create further global instability.
“We will continue to put pressure on the government to rethink this decision while pursuing our more progressive policies of helping the poor, caring for the elderly and vulnerable, and working towards a green and sustainable economy.”