Skip to content

Would Joining NATO Undermine Scotland’s Nuclear Disarmament Movement?

The First Member States Party Meeting for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons on 22nd June 2022

Isabel Lindsay, vice chair of Scottish CND, makes her case for Scotland prioritising the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons over joining NATO.

Scottish CND has always been opposed to NATO membership for very sound reasons.

For one, NATO is committed to nuclear weapons as a key element in its military strategy. For another, It ties us to an alliance dominated, if not totally controlled, by the US – whose record of military aggression we have often
campaigned against.

There is no doubt that with a NATO membership application, an independent Scotland would face huge pressure to maintain Trident on a long lease.

Of course, there are states in NATO without nuclear weapons – but none of them have required the removal of an existing major nuclear base.

The fact that long before the Ukraine war, supposed neutral states like Sweden and Finland refused to ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons because of the strong pressure from NATO is an indication of what we need to prepare for. Congratulations to Ireland and Austria for maintaining their principles.


However, we have to develop a strategy which recognises that many who support a non-nuclear
position also currently support or at least accept NATO membership. We need an agreed process and
timetable that removes the issue from contention in any negotiations with NATO. We are fortunate
that there is a clear process.


The ratification of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons needs to come before any NATO application. This will bring with it the process and timetable for removal which has to be agreed with the other state parties. By the earliest independence date, the number of states who have ratified the treaty is likely to be around 90 at least.

Once ratification is completed, Scotland’s non-nuclear position will be firmly entrenched in international law and will not be up for negotiation with the UK or NATO.