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Scrapping Trident may be only option after YES vote

The controversy over the suggestion that London might annex Faslane if Scotland votes YES in 2014 highlights the UK govermnent's lack of options. An MOD source suggested that Faslane could become a Sovereign Base Area for RUK. This idea was swiftly dismissed by Downing Street as "not a credible or sensible idea", after Better Together pointed out that this suggestion was a gift to the YES campaign.


The MOD source said this was being considered because of the difficulties associated with trying to relocate Trident. Former Armed Forces Minister Nick Harvey said that finding an alternative base in England or Wales was "not realistically viable" (Guardian).  Last year the MOD effectively ruled out the possibility of moving Trident to the US or France, citing political and legal obstacles (MOD response to Scottish Affairs Committee).

It has been suggested that the Government of an independent Scotland might negotiate a leasing arrangement over Faslane and Coulport. However, in evidence to the Defence Committee, Defence Minister Philip Hammond made it clear that the MOD would want to retain full control over both sites. This would amount to a Sovereign Base Area - the idea which has just been dismissed by Downing Street.  

In response to the proposal that Faslane might be annexed, Nicola Sturgeon, Deputy First Minister, made it clear that the SNP would not regard Trident as a bargaining counter:

"Politicians, often and sometimes justifiably, get criticised for a lack of principle - getting rid of Trident is an issue of principle, certainly for the party and government that I represent.

"It is not a bargaining chip. Trident nuclear weapons, weapons of mass destruction that we're supposedly trying to get rid off from the rest of the world, are not right, they're immoral, they don't serve any useful purpose, they take up obscene amounts of money that would be better spent on conventional forces, on social and public services." (Independent 11 July)

The only remaining option for a UK government, if Scotland votes YES, is to scrap Trident. This is something many people, not just in Scotland but in England, Wales and around the world, would welcome with open arms.

Scottish CND has produced a detailed report on these issues - Trident: Nowhere to Go (revised March 2013)

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