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Political Positions

The main political parties in Scotland - Labour, Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, SNP, Scottish Green Party, and SSP - say the following about Britain's nuclear weapons.

Labour Party
"We support Trident, Britain's minimum nuclear deterrent. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty commits us to work for the global elimination of nuclear weapons. We are enthusiastic signatories to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, whose coming into force will impede nuclear proliferation, and we want to see the USA and Russia continue to reduce their nuclear stockpiles."

Scottish Conservative Party
"We will... remain fully committed to Britain's independent nuclear deterrent."

Liberal Democrat Party
"We would... maintain Britain's overall defence capability at its current level, whilst ensuring UK forces meet current needs, and are appropriate to potential threats."

Scottish National Party
"The SNP believes that our defence needs would best be met without nuclear weapons, within the framework of the EU and in conjunction with an international policy which addresses the causes of conflict, as well as the symptoms."

Scottish Green Party
"we will phase out nuclear power stations within the shortest possible timescale... Greens will immediately end funding for Trident and all other weapons of mass destruction."

Scottish Socialist Party
"we will fight for... the removal of Trident, and all nuclear weapons from Scotland. [Also,] the decommissioning of nuclear power plants and the establishment of a diversification agency to guarantee the livelihoods of all workers whose jobs are dependent on nuclear weapons and nuclear power."

The British Government's position contains these points :

1. Britain needs the Trident system for its defence
2. Britain supports the Non Proliferation Treaty according to which the US, Russia, China, France and Britain as permanent members of the United Nations Security Council are the only countries which may have nuclear weapons.
3. Britain is committed to working towards the elimination of nuclear weapons.

In a war Britain is prepared to be the first to use nuclear weapons. It is also prepared to use them where her interests are at risk. It is difficult to know what British nuclear weapons are intended to do. It is said that Britain's weapons are designed to destroy Moscow's defence complex (including its Command and Control Centre). Britain's weapons are assigned to NATO but can also be used independently with US support.

The most recent annual defence reviews have little to say about nuclear weapons. At a recent NATO meeting attention was drawn to Britain's sub-strategic warheads on Trident. How they would be used is obscure. The Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democratic parties are in favour of Britain's retention of nuclear weapons. Plaid Cymru, the Scottish National Party and the Green Party are opposed. The Northern Ireland parties' views have not been recorded.

Since the establishment of the Scottish Parliament defence is a power reserved to the British Government and defence matters cannot be decided by the Scottish Parliament. Issues affected by the presence of Britain's only nuclear base within Scotland for example health and safety and the environment can be considered.

At Westminster there is a CND group of MPs and at Holyrood there is a cross party Nuclear Disarmament Group of MSPs. Representatives of CND attend these groups.


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