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Scotland's future can be in Nato – whilst also working for global nuclear disarmament

Scotland's future can be in Nato – whilst also working for global nuclear disarmament

A nuclear submarine sails up the Gare Loch to Faslane, November 2009 | Alamy

Bill Kidd MSP

4 min read

Nuclear weapons will be gone from Scotland's soil and waters within three years of independence

It has been SNP policy that an independent Scotland should seek to be a member state of Nato since 2012. This was decided at party conference after a vigorous debate and a close vote. Since then, it has occasionally been a matter of political discussion. This is based on the fact that an independent Scotland would follow the majority view of the Scottish people, the Scottish parliament (two votes against Trident renewal) and the longstanding position of the SNP administration in the Scottish government that Scotland will stand as a nuclear weapon-free state.

Trident will be removed from Faslane/Coulport as quickly and safely as possible. Most recently, SNP conference agreed this would be within three years of independence. This is aligned with international law, which an independent Scotland will comply with. 

There is no equivocation from the fact that the nuclear weapons will go from Scotland’s soil and waters and will do so within the timescale established by Scottish CND. Related jobs will be replaced by employment in a conventional naval base and work in the renewable energy sector, as agreed by the Scottish TUC. 

Nuclear disarmament has been in the DNA of the SNP since the early 1960s, when the British government decided to base its nuclear arsenal just 30 miles from half of Scotland’s population and nothing has changed. The common objection to nuclear weapons in Scotland is ethical, as these weapons are indiscriminate in nature.

Various instances of political and security order upheavals over the years have resulted in additions to Nato membership, with substantial variations in the terms of joining.

Nuclear disarmament has been in the DNA of the SNP since the early 1960s

As it stands, of the 30 Nato member states, five are “nuclear-sharing” states. However, there is also the case of Ireland – a Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) signatory – in the Partnership for Peace agreement. This shows that the range of relationships within Nato is a wide one.

As I write, I am attending the First Meeting of State Parties of the TPNW at the United Nations in Vienna as part of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) Parliamentarians for TPNW delegation. ICAN leads the way in driving forward this treaty making nuclear weapons illegal on humanitarian grounds.

It is ICAN’s intention that Nato states engage with the TPNW process, and that they use this fresh opportunity to re-engage with their long-established Nuclear Proliferation Treaty (NPT) commitments to nuclear disarmament. 

I recently met with independent senator Marilou McPhedran of Canada, who is also attending the First Meeting of State Parties, to discuss the strategically aligned goals of movements in Canada and Scotland towards nuclear disarmament to this end. 

I join many in condemning the actions of the current United Kingdom government administration to increase the vertical proliferation of nuclear weapons in the UK by upping stockpile caps by 40 per cent. 

Nato outlined in February that it is in “full compliance with the NPT”. 

We all know that the NPT, as signed by the P5 permanent members of the UN Security Council, has the clear objective of “furthering the goal… of complete disarmament”. 

Yet this has not, in 52 years, been achieved. 

The NPT process has become stagnant, which shows a new tack must be taken.

The TPNW is an essential part of the new political landscape of nuclear disarmament. This treaty presents an opportunity for nuclear states to renew their longstanding legal obligations. 

As an independent nation, Scotland will demonstrate how it is possible for strategically and politically aligned Nato member states to engage afresh with essential efforts towards complete nuclear disarmament, through signing and ratifying the TPNW.

Bill Kidd is SNP MSP for Glasgow Anniesland and co-president of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament

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