Military chiefs warn Scotland over evicting nuclear weapons

GLASGOW Mon Apr 14, 2014 7:03pm BST

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond delivers his speech at the Scottish National Party (SNP) Spring Conference in Aberdeen, Scotland April 12, 2014. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond delivers his speech at the Scottish National Party (SNP) Spring Conference in Aberdeen, Scotland April 12, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Russell Cheyne

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GLASGOW (Reuters) - The Scottish government's plan to evict Britain's nuclear submarine base if it wins a vote for independence would cost billions of pounds, cut thousands of jobs and create resentment internationally, former defence chiefs said on Monday.

The Scottish National Party, which runs Scotland's devolved parliament, has vowed to remove and ban all nuclear weapons in the first parliament of independence, that would start in 2016 if Scotland votes Yes at a September 18 referendum.

But the former top brass said the proposed timescale would create "huge practical problems" over the cost and jobs lost and such a stance would be "unacceptable" to NATO allies.

The concerns raised by four former chiefs of defence staff, six former first sea lords, a former chief of the general staff, and a former chief of the air staff, come after a narrowing in opinion polls this year, which have made independence seem a possibility even though nationalists still lag in support.

"Were the Scottish people to vote for independence, then Scotland, as a new small nation in an uncertain world, would need international partners to help secure its economic and social objectives and allies to provide national security," their letter to Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond said.

"NATO, as an alliance with nuclear deterrence as a central part of its strategic concept, could hardly be expected to welcome a new member state whose government put in jeopardy the continued operation of the UK independent nuclear deterrent - a deterrent which protects not only the UK but all of NATO as well."

Scotland is home to four submarines armed with Trident nuclear warheads at the Faslane naval base on the Clyde River which employs about 7,000 people. One of the submarines is always on patrol, giving a continuous at-sea presence.

It wants to seek NATO membership as a non-nuclear state if it becomes independent, ending a 307-year tie to England.

The future of the nuclear submarines are seen by many as one of Scotland's main bargaining chips in getting what it wants in the 18 months of negotiations that would follow any Yes vote in September in working out how it leaves the United Kingdom.

Last month an unnamed UK minister was quoted as suggesting that the refusal by the main UK parties to share the pound with an independent Scotland could be resolved if Scotland was flexible on Trident.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said nothing could be ruled out if the two countries did have to negotiate a split.

But Salmond is adamant that nuclear weapons will not be on the negotiating table.

He was cheered at a party conference two days ago when he gave a guarantee that a Yes vote would lead to the removal of "weapons of mass destruction" from Scotland "once and for all".

(Editing by Alison Williams)

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Comments (5)
notapurebreed wrote:
The removal of nuclear weapons from a British base would make Scotland unacceptable to NATO. The removal of the base would also mean that the British Pound would not be a viable currency in Britain. The fact that Scotland is being so dramatic towards England, could force the government in London to break diplomatic relations and close the border between the two countries. The British debt is going to assign 23 billion Pounds of debt between the two nations, should it vote for secession. This would mean that Scotland would need a currency, and the only one available would be the Euro. In order to use that currency as a state currency, Scotland would have to apply for membership to the European Union. One country blocking that application to the EU would be Spain. Spain is having its own problems with secession, and the acceptance of Scotland would only exacerbate Spain problems with separatism. So, here are the major problems facing Scotland. The first is the currency issue with the British pound. The second would be that they would never be a part of NATO with the closure of the nuclear submarine base in western Scotland. The third is that Spain could block their entry into the EU, because it only takes one negative vote to kill the application. The problem of not being acceptable to the EU coupled with the failure to negotiate a dual use of the British Pound would leave Scotland in a poor economic situation, with heavy debt. Even if Spain was to relent, then does the EU want a country that is another economic headache, like Greece. Any loan to them would require a heavy austerity program on the part of the Scottish government. This separatist move has all of the indicators for failure, and not so many reasons as to why it going to work. If it does fail, then why would England want Scotland back into the British fold. If I lived in Scotland, then I would vote against this secession from Great Britain. The problems are much greater foe, than the need for nationalism. The people who live in Scotland will be punished by their own government for being shortsighted on secession. This is clearly a case where common sense is being overruled by the desire to be free of England.

Apr 14, 2014 10:27pm BST  --  Report as abuse
notapurebreed wrote:
The removal of nuclear weapons from a British base would make Scotland unacceptable to NATO. The removal of the base would also mean that the British Pound would not be a viable currency in Britain. The fact that Scotland is being so dramatic towards England, could force the government in London to break diplomatic relations and close the border between the two countries. The British debt is going to assign 23 billion Pounds of debt between the two nations, should it vote for secession. This would mean that Scotland would need a currency, and the only one available would be the Euro. In order to use that currency as a state currency, Scotland would have to apply for membership to the European Union. One country blocking that application to the EU would be Spain. Spain is having its own problems with secession, and the acceptance of Scotland would only exacerbate Spain problems with separatism. So, here are the major problems facing Scotland. The first is the currency issue with the British pound. The second would be that they would never be a part of NATO with the closure of the nuclear submarine base in western Scotland. The third is that Spain could block their entry into the EU, because it only takes one negative vote to kill the application. The problem of not being acceptable to the EU coupled with the failure to negotiate a dual use of the British Pound would leave Scotland in a poor economic situation, with heavy debt. Even if Spain was to relent, then does the EU want a country that is another economic headache, like Greece. Any loan to them would require a heavy austerity program on the part of the Scottish government. This separatist move has all of the indicators for failure, and not so many reasons as to why it going to work. If it does fail, then why would England want Scotland back into the British fold. If I lived in Scotland, then I would vote against this secession from Great Britain. The problems are much greater foe, than the need for nationalism. The people who live in Scotland will be punished by their own government for being shortsighted on secession. This is clearly a case where common sense is being overruled by the desire to be free of England.

Apr 14, 2014 10:27pm BST  --  Report as abuse
notapurebreed wrote:
The removal of nuclear weapons from a British base would make Scotland unacceptable to NATO. The removal of the base would also mean that the British Pound would not be a viable currency in Britain. The fact that Scotland is being so dramatic towards England, could force the government in London to break diplomatic relations and close the border between the two countries. The British debt is going to assign 23 billion Pounds of debt between the two nations, should it vote for secession. This would mean that Scotland would need a currency, and the only one available would be the Euro. In order to use that currency as a state currency, Scotland would have to apply for membership to the European Union. One country blocking that application to the EU would be Spain. Spain is having its own problems with secession, and the acceptance of Scotland would only exacerbate Spain problems with separatism. So, here are the major problems facing Scotland. The first is the currency issue with the British pound. The second would be that they would never be a part of NATO with the closure of the nuclear submarine base in western Scotland. The third is that Spain could block their entry into the EU, because it only takes one negative vote to kill the application. The problem of not being acceptable to the EU coupled with the failure to negotiate a dual use of the British Pound would leave Scotland in a poor economic situation, with heavy debt. Even if Spain was to relent, then does the EU want a country that is another economic headache, like Greece. Any loan to them would require a heavy austerity program on the part of the Scottish government. This separatist move has all of the indicators for failure, and not so many reasons as to why it going to work. If it does fail, then why would England want Scotland back into the British fold. If I lived in Scotland, then I would vote against this secession from Great Britain. The problems are much greater foe, than the need for nationalism. The people who live in Scotland will be punished by their own government for being shortsighted on secession. This is clearly a case where common sense is being overruled by the desire to be free of England.

Apr 14, 2014 10:27pm BST  --  Report as abuse
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