Disarmament day or dirty deal?

IssueMarch 2012
Comment by David MacKenzie

The Scottish National Party (SNP) has made a clear and repeated commitment to get rid of the Trident nuclear weapon system come independence. Rather than simply accepting that commitment and waiting for the happy day I believe we should be attempting to tease out what is intended.

The SNP has vigorously denied that they would engage in a ‘Dirty Trident Deal’ whereby the Trident bases on the Clyde remain operational in return for a smooth independence path and/or other goodies, such as favourable terms for economic disentanglement. There are, however, a number of in-between possibilities which would have different amounts of dirt sticking to them. Start by imagining the ideal, the demand that Remnant UK is given three months to remove nuclear warheads from Scotland and that the Vanguard Trident submarines are impounded (by a blockade of the Rhu narrows) until guarantees are given that they will be removed permanently from patrol and moved to a suitable location for safe storage or breaking up. Confrontational, but an absolutely fair response under international law.

The point is that there is a continuum between that ideal and the Dirty Deal in its full glory. For example, another point on that continuum would be a long-time concession to Remnant UK to arrange the removal with the status quo operating meantime. That option, tantamount to betrayal in my eyes, might, in SNP minds, still fit the bill.

The point is that we don’t know and the SNP is shy of giving the specifics, beyond MSP Bill Kidd saying said that they had a commitment to having Trident removed from Scotland within ‘a practical period’. We need to press for transparency now.

A related question is whether a new Scotland would be part of NATO , with its unchanged nuclear first strike policy. If so would that not make the removal of Trident little more than cosmetic?


Topics: Nuclear weapons
See more of: Scotland